Friday, May 20, 2011
The Nature of Church
One thing I've learned in the last five years working at World Impact is that the Body of Christ is made up of a lot of people I wouldn't normally attach myself too if left to my own selfish desires. And, that American individualism and the "right to choose" has given us countless opportunities to run away from having to deal with the fact that the world doesn't revolve around us! Church (big C) was never intended to let you be who you are, it was meant to let you be who you were intended to be...and that takes some hard work done in the context of community.
Andrew and I were just talking with a friend recently about styles of worship in church and how fixated we are as the American church on the style of a services. We want a pastor who will soon be writing books and having YouTube clips bouncing around Facebook and we want worship that gives us goosebumps. We want small groups that "get us" and outreach that looks really "missional" with the least amount of daily investment. It's gotten to the point that we choose churches that make us feel good instead of churches that make us a more functional part of the Body of Christ.
If you go to a Christ-centered church and can't worship the Lord because of the style of service, that's not a style problem, that's a You problem. If you think the nature of Church is to be conflict free and easy, then you will spend your whole life running away and never engage in the mission God has for us...and isn't that exactly what Satan is looking for?
Try picking a small group full of people you would never usually hang out with and commit to working through the conflicts that may ensue. Pray that God teaches you to sense the Holy Spirit in more that really moving music. Try changing yourself as you commit to a body of believers rather than expecting they change for you.
I heard a pastor talk recently about our tendency to approach the ways of God by checking them against our own reason and logic. We tend to choose the aspects of God that fit in with our world view and reject or ignore the others. But the Scriptures say that God's thoughts and ways are as high above ours as the sky is above the earth. I think we've done this with church. We have taken God's purpose for the Church (big C) and made it into church (small c) because it feels better in the moment. We've limited God by our selfishness and stymied the expansion of His Kingdom in our own lives and our communities.
If the nature of Church is about bringing the transformational power of Christ to our lives and our communities, that means we shouldn't try to squeeze it into our own personal world-view. We should approach it with reverence, knowing there may be things about the Church that we don't understand or that in our limited understanding we wish were different. That's OK. Embrace it. It's a process but the more I am working on this the deeper my understanding of community has become, the more I am able to see Christ in even the most unlikely places.
I want to think big. I want to accept the fact that God knows everything we don't and that we will have to change our thoughts and ways in order to go on mission with Him. Let's not make church about me or about you, we're much too small a vision. Let's make church about God and commit to seeing ourselves and the world changed by Him. Now, that's a mission I can get excited about!