Monday, June 15, 2009

On answering questions about attending/not attending church............

Every now and again I run into someone who will ask me the infamous question of, "So where are you going to church these days?" Most often it is someone with whom I used to attend the same church. I also get the question of "why don't you go to that church anymore?" The first question is easy to answer but hard to explain. The second question is hard to answer, due to the sensitive nature of not wanting to in any way criticize a church, yet to be honest, but it is easy to explain. So here goes.....
What I told a woman just today, in regards to what I am looking for in a church, is that no one is radical enough for me. She thought I meant I need them to be more into the gifts and such. A year ago, I was exploring with all of that and realized there is so much more to be experienced, but it's not through 'charismatic' church. It's through the VERY LIFE OF CHRIST THAT NOW INDWELLS ME!!
When I say radical, we have to remember the Gospel IS radical. It's foolishness, the Bible says! Most churches have not SEEN the entire radicalness of the finality of Jesus work on the cross! The truth of how not only have our sins been forgiven, but our sin natures removed, and we were plunged into Christ's death with him, and raised into newness of life with him. Most christians don't even know what it truly means to be 'born again'.  I sure didn't! 
If we have been born again, become new creations in Christ, seated in Heaven with God, why are we not talking about this AMAZING reality in church? Instead, we focus on how to live our earthly lives in our earthly bodies. Folks we are not our flesh and body. We ARE who we are in our spirit, I mean that's how God sees and identifies us. We are told to look not to the seen but to the unseen. What does that mean? Can you see your spirit? I can't! But it's in our spirit, where Christ lives. He is our very life and identity. Our spirit needs to be fed and nourished with the 'living' word. The truth of who we are now and how everything in the word points to Christ and His finished work. But the problem is, most churches are 'feeding' their people with practicals, how to's and principles to live on this earth as mere flesh and blood. When what they should be doing is fixin their eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of their faith. When our spirit is fed, our spirit breathes life through our mortal bodies and we are transformed from the inside out. We live in union with Christ. We have become divine partakers of His life and co-laborers  with him on this earth. 
So that is what I mean when I say radical. I choose to live my life from my TRUE source, JESUS. Not my flesh. Church most often feeds fleshly needs, earthly needs. And some of those earthly needs and principles are important, after all we do have to live here and relate with others. However, if we focus on the spirit, walk by the spirit, who brings freedom and life to our mortal bodies - we will be led into ALL truth. Including how to live out our life on this earth and in relationship with others. You see when you live in union, in relationship with Jesus, the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE, you begin to flow out of that union. You live as ONE, with Him. Just as a married couple takes on each other's traits, qualities, finish each others sentences and read each others minds, so do those who are married to Jesus grow into His image and likeness. Not because of 'doing', practicing or having convictions, but because of living in constant intimacy and relationship to Christ, to His very spirit within you. 
Most churches don't get that. What they offer is religion. Let's see what exactly religion is, I will allow Wikipedia to explain for me; 

"A religion is an organized approach to human spirituality which usually encompasses a set of narrativessymbols, beliefs and practices, often with a supernatural or transcendent quality, that give meaning to the practitioner's experiences of life through reference to a higher power, God orgods, or ultimate truth.[1] It may be expressed through prayerritualmeditationmusic and art, among other things. It may focus on specificsupernaturalmetaphysical, and moral claims about reality (the cosmos and human nature) which may yield a set of religious lawsethics, and a particular lifestyle. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith andreligious experience.

The term "religion" refers to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction. "Religion" is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system,"[2] but it is more socially defined than personal convictions, and it entails specific behaviors, respectively."


 After looking at that meaning, I sure don't want to get to the end of my life and say I lived by personal practices based on faith or conviction, ie; religion.  NO, I want to say I lived my life married  in union to Jesus, the author, perfector and finisher of my faith. The One who lavishly loved me and saved me to carry His very life. I lived fixed on the prize, not on my behavior or my good intentions or practices, but on HIM!! That's what it means to let Jesus be my all in all.

Simply because Jesus has chosen to dwell in me by His very Spirit, he has tabernacled with me and I have become His temple. Therefore, I am the church! He is in me and I am in Him. Church is not a place we go, it is a place Christ dwells in by His Spirit. He chooses mere man, earthen vessels to do His work, but it's only first through getting to know Him and seeing what He is doing. Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing, while He was on earth and He did that out of countless hours of intimacy with him. So we need to realize we are in a divine partnership with Christ. He chooses to move in us and through us, that is how we are the light and salt of the world, by His life within us flowing out, seasoning others by His grace in us. He doesn't need buildings and organizations to try and attempt to do, what only He can organicly do and has already done. (it's just that most believers don't know it yet.)

So to all those out there who don't understand why people leave church, and you're tempted to think they left their faith, and have run away from God, think again!! They have perhaps just run to God completely- more than you will ever know!! (unless perhaps you decide to join them......) 

17 comments:

cmcmaster said...

You just explained what I have been feeling lately!

thenormalchristian said...

Bless you my dear brother/sister (sorry)!!! What you wrote is the cry of my heart which is: to experience Jesus & see HIM expressed all around us through his ekklesia. Keep on enjoying Jesus!
Anthony
www.thenormalchristian.wordpress.com

Bino M. said...

Great post, Lydia!

Joel B. said...

An excellent blog post full of truth, Lyds! Very inspiring. Not in a "pep rally" sort of way but in a way that really speaks to the reality of our new life in Christ! I'm luvin it!

John Fincher said...

Yes and Amen!

Morpheus: The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you're inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

Lydia this is so good. You will love the John Solomon extract on my blog. i just found it.

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
lydia said...

Candace & Anthony ~ It's always comforting to find others speaking out the cry of our hearts!! Glad you both came for a visit!!

lydia said...

Thanks Joel & Bino!!

lydia said...

JOHN!!! YES!! That was the perfect quote from the Matrix - I just love that movie, now I am gonna have to go watch it AGAIN!!!!

lydia said...

Thanks Chris - I will stop by and check it out soon!!

Don said...

Very well said, Lydia. Can you write soon on how, if you're not "attending church," you're remaining in fellowship with other members of the Body of Christ, as he intended us to?

lydia said...

DON!!!! So good to have you by!! Yes I certainly could write on that. I personally have remained in fellowship with other members of the Body, just not in a 'meeting' or a 'building'. Anyway, I will give some thought to it..........peace to you!!!!

lydia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Fincher said...

Don,

If you haven't read it, I would suggest "So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore" co-authored by Wayne Jacobsen. Not really an anti-church book, but is a really good conversation on this topic.

Don said...

Hi John,

A number of friends are reading, or have read, that book. I probably would enjoy it. (I'm having great difficulty reading any Christian books these days, though; I think God wants me to put into practice what I've already learned.)

My take is that God is encouraging his people to meet in whatever format works for them, just so they don't try to "do" their faith by themselves. With very few exceptions (John the Baptist in the desert? - though we don't know if he was part of a desert community), the Spirit of Jesus works best in/through us when we're in solid relationships with other believers.

lydia said...

Don,
I agree Body life is SO important. God has designed it for us to in a sense 'depend' on one another. I know I won't see everything I need to see by myself, although the Holy Spirit is most definitely a dependable counselor and comforter, he often uses others to sharpen me, or encourage me or exhort me. I am SO grateful for my brother's and sister's in Christ, that KNOW WHO THEY REALLY ARE.
I think Body life can come in all shapes, colors and varities. I would say just find some like minded believers (which I know YOU have) and have at it!! Be in each other's lives!! Bear each other's burdens, encourage each other in who you are and so on....
I know I have been greatly blessed by my online family in Christ, in fact I have made some of the richest friends ever through this avenue.