I often feel that people like to squeeze you into their mold. And often I have felt the repercussions of me not letting that happen. One can feel isolated, lonely and certainly forgotten but all for the best. There are forms of non-conformity that are good for us. Standing against the norm, refusing to be sucked into conformity helps shape society and culture. Of course this can be abused but that’s not what I am talking about.
I have had a rare look into the world of those who are often isolated, lonely and forgotten. These folks are often the brunt of jokes and other forms of verbal bashing. Sadly, this has happened most often at the hands of people who call themselves Christians. It has sickened me to my core and it has also caused me to take a step back and examine the core of American Church Culture. What I have found is a large group of very misguided folk. People with perhaps good intentions…I have questions about that. But for the benefit of the doubt, people who just don’t see anything wrong with their judgmental, isolating way of life. They rationalize their attitudes and actions and rarely can they step away from their traditions to see the folly of their ways.
The church – the body of Christ, is supposed to offer safe haven for those who are lonely, misunderstood and who are left isolated from the core groups within society. Sadly the reason these people are isolated and lonely is many times because of the church. Furthermore, the church has lost its opportunity to reach these left out, overlooked groups of valuable people. And it cares little for when confronted, many excuse and rationalize their misguided, lofty positions.
The church is not a where but rather whom. It is who you are and how you life your life that will change the world. It is meeting the world, rubbing shoulders with complete strangers, wrapping your arms around them, loving them and sharing hope that can change the world. It is saying hello to them when you pass by. It is offering a hand of kindness, opening a door, offering a meal, giving to a need, etc…without asking for anything in return. It is giving them hope when they are hopeless.
The real church, the body, is about who you are seven days a week. It is about living out an attitude of worship all week long. And worship is so misunderstood. It is giving God all of you 24/7. It is that your life is not about you but about others. Service, servanthood, and attitude of compassion and care for others in the attitude of Christ…this is worship. Romans 12:1&2 – present your bodies a living sacrifice…this, friends, is your highest act of worship when done to glorify God. Worship is not a service you participate in. Worship is the act of honoring God through your life. This gets down to the nitty gritty. This makes us step back and examine who we are and why we do what we do. Are we doing what we are doing in honor of God?????? Everything we do in our daily life can be an act of worship.
And as for corporate worship…I know plenty who are looking for their spiritual “food stamps” on Sunday morning! We mock people who genuinely need food stamps to exist. We make fun of those we think are looking for a hand out. We say they are lazy, unwilling to work hard to get what they need. Yet, funny how we excuse those who look for a quick Sunday morning fix. These people want to be fed spiritual food instead of being responsible to find food in God’s Word. They are addicts to traditional ways of living instead of finding out how to live out authentic Christianity.
I have been in a rare position as I said at the beginning of this note. I have heard what people say about the church. And they are not impressed. Christians have not made Jesus attractive. My hearts cries out for an authentic way to show the real Jesus to a hurting culture. I am talking about how to show Jesus to everyone, including those who think they are the church.
The best survival tools Glen and I have discovered has rarely meant going with the mainstream. Instead we examine everything we do to find if it really is the best. Does it accurately portray authentic Christianity? Do I make Jesus attractive? Or am I just looking to go with the flow, not stir the pot, and live an easy breezy cover girl Christian life! Hmm, most folks I know don’t want to stir the pot or think outside the box.
I have yet to discover all the answers but this I know…tradition does not offer them. NT Christianity and its Biblical models are not being taught or encouraged. A recent read of “Pagan Christianity” by George Barna, caused me to really examine the stirrings I had begun to feel in my heart. I don’t think he provides all the answers but he does cause one to evaluate that almost 99% of what goes on in modern church culture is not according the NT biblical standards. Tradition has bread a society of spiritual robots and lazy feed me attitudes. It has not fostered authenticity and it has stifled creativity. It has alienated the week and the poor. It has taught judgment. It has created a place for performances and light shows. It has fostered laziness and built brainwashed Sunday morning robots.
So, what is the answer? How does one respond to the sickening conditions of
culture? Well, I think that means we get on our knees and ask God how we can best life out his purpose and plan for his people. I think that means a purging of the flawed ideas. It means thinking outside the box to find an organic answer. And each solution will be unique and creative. It will not necessarily look like what we have come to know as church. American Church
Our family is striving to find a creative solution and answer to how we can best live out authentic, organic Christianity. We are praying and searching for creative solutions. Because staying together and experiencing real relationships is what every heart wants and needs. Edifying one another does not take place in a service that is programmed and staged. Edification takes place when we take time to love, listen and spend quality time with people. And edification of the believers is the primary purpose of the body of Christ!!!!!! That’s the reason being together is necessary. I will say that I have seldom experienced this in a programmed, staged Sunday morning light show performance, loud foot stomping, hand clapping, feed me worship program! I have, however, experienced this in my 24/7 life. And until we live out being the church during the week, Sunday is most often a quick fix, spiritual food stamp experience.
I know, some might read this and say I am jaded and bitter. Quite the contrary! If you talk to me, or spend time with me, you will know I am certainly not that kind of woman. I am however, a woman who has got my head out of the sand enough to finally begin to experience living an organic life!!!!! And this fresh life causes me to ask questions and examine my own reasons for doing things. If is causing me to search for answers. It is causing me to life continually in an attitude of prayer. It is causing me to walk moment by moment in the spirit because I want to make Jesus attractive to the world!