Friday, February 14, 2014
Fishin' With Jesus
So this past week I read an article on whether or not Christians actually need to attend church. Technically it was one Christian writing on how he doesn't go to church and how he feels he connects better with God in another way- something along those lines. To be honest, this is most definitely is not the first time I have heard this concept before. Over the years I have heard many different arguments from many different angles on why and how a person can be a Christian yet not be a part of a fellowship that meets regularly.
And I just can't believe we are not past this yet.
In the times and days we are living in- these dark, evil, harsh times that we are living in I cannot believe that something so fundamental is still being tossed around so casually. That something our fellow believers are being martyred for daily in other countries is something that we make for light coffee house conversation and something that we feel entitled to test the waters on and feel our way through. Quite honestly it angers me a bit to see something of such magnitude taken so lightly.
It is not that I am overly religious and feel that every person needs to be in church every single week. You all know me- I freely admit to finding church semi-boring, to eating candy during the sermons, to missing church a lot because I am sick, and so on. However, I do firmly believe (with Biblical basis) that if you profess to believe in Jesus then you have a responsibility to be plugged in to a network of believers and to be under a spiritual headship and covering. I believe that is very, very important. This idea that it is ok to function with no church that you truly belong to- that you can survive and thrive on your own- just doesn't fit with the biblical description of what this is all about. Yes, we all meet God in different ways, but when it comes to growth, discipline, and keeping on the path...well, there is a reason we are admonished to meet REGULARLY with a steady group of like minded people. There is a reason you should be going regularly to church.
It is not just you and God.
Because you see, in the beginning, it was just man and God- but God said that was not good. So He made woman. And from that, there came a baby. And from that there came family. And relationships. And community. And society.
That's what church is. Family. Relationship. Community. Society.
We are there to catch you when you start to fall. And you are there to catch me when I start to fall. A "pastor" is a special calling that God gives to someone- a mantle placed upon someone, and God anoints that person...giving them special insights and revelations into the Word of God. And that pastor, through his preaching, then shares those insights with the congregation- with you. So you come to church to learn and to be fed in a way you cannot do on your own, because you do not carry that mantle. You come to church to join in a chorus of worship with fellow believers- like the angels in heaven to. I don't know about you, but if the angels feel it is a good thing to worship in song with one another, then I am not going to put myself above them.
You go to church to partake in communion with fellow believers, just as Jesus commanded us to continue doing in remembrance of Him. You do to church so that you can surround yourself with like-minded people- people who share the same beliefs as you. It is very, very easy to succumb to our own weaknesses. When you are off on your own, you are accountable to no one. Your sins, your slight failings, your little back steps remain a secret- nobody is there to see it. Nobody is there to say "Hey friend, you don't look so good. I love you and I don't think those decisions are the best ones for you. What can I do to help?" No. Instead, you just quietly slip down your own path...usually completely off the path. Friends are there for one another- we are there to help, to love, to support, to build each other up- friends sharpen one another. ;)
You go to church to put yourself under a covering- that same mantle a pastor carries for the preaching of the Word, he also carries to be your shepherd. The pastor's job is to take care of the people in his church. Jeff and I are counselors- not the kind with a PhD who charge $100/hr, but we have our Bachelors Degrees from Bible College and one of the things we were taught and trained for as we were trained for ministry was counseling. Many times our congregants have come to us in need- spiritual, emotional, marital- and we are there to help. We have counseled many people over the years, and those who choose to get help find themselves growing and changing and knowing freedom and reconciliation- and knowing that they have a support system of people who love them.
It is also that protection and that covering that guards you from false teachings in your life. The Bible is clear that we live in days when false teachers rise up with all sorts of unbiblical teachings- and unless you know truth and unless you consistently sit under good, solid, godly teaching then you become very susceptible to being led astray.
I have heard so many times people say "I just connect with God differently. I don't need to be in church to meet Jesus. I prefer to go out fishing on Sunday morning and meet Jesus." Of course you can meet God while you're fishing! We all meet God in different ways. I think it's great- so go ahead, spend all day Saturday fishing and hanging out with Jesus. The truth is, more often than not it's a big old cop out, and you really just don't feel like going to church (sorry!). More often than not, you either have a chip on your shoulder, or you're really not serving Jesus and these are just excuses you are giving to appease your conscience.
Because you cannot be having this awesome personal "you and Jesus time" and yet not be obeying what He says to do. If you and Jesus are chilling on the lake, and you're getting really close in your relationship, then at some point He is going to have to share with the you the same thing He has shared with the rest of us- the Bible. That part in the Bible where we are commanded to keep meeting together as a body of believers. (Hebrews 10:25) There are many such references, but I will leave you with just that one because it is sufficient. So what is it? You don't want to be told what to do? You don't like getting up on Sunday morning? I can relate- really. I think we all can. I don't like getting up early on Sunday morning, and I think sermons are boring sometimes, and I don't always like everything about church- but I do love Jesus. I obey His commands to me because He knows what is best for me and you know what? When I got sick, my church family were the ones who were pressing money into our hands week after week. They were the ones who gathered around my family in prayer. They babysat my kids and made dinner for us every night for months. CHURCH did that.
And what about your role? Is it ok for you to be a Christian who doesn't contribute? You should be playing a part in this thing. We NEED you to play YOUR role in this thing. You should be reaching out to other believers. You should be taking a new Christian under your wing and discipling them if you've been around a while. You should be helping out in a Sunday School class or on a worship team. Because the Bible says that God has given a spiritual gift to each and every one of us- so where are you using yours? You should be be plugged in to a body of believers so that you can help us function as a whole. If we function as a whole then maybe we stand a chance and getting this beautiful message of Jesus Christ to all the world.
But it takes unity. The lone ranger may benefit just you but that will only last for a short while. Eventually you will experience a hardship in your life. Or you will get tired. Or bored. Or just lose purpose. And then sadly, you will look around you and find that you are all alone because you have isolated yourself...and Jesus never ever wanted that for you. Or even on the off chance none of that happens- even so, you're not helping the cause of the Great Commission in the most effective way- which is together.
Jesus set the example Himself. He did not walk this earth in solitude, just Him and God. He made a point of being in fellowship with others. He broke bread and drank wine- yes, he had the very first communion service with others. Friends, we were never meant to do this alone. So let me help you; let me share a few tips that help me: go to bed a little earlier Saturday night, pack some snacks or candy to bring with you to munch on during service (trust me, it makes the sermon a little more fun), make friends so you will look forward to going, and remember that church is not a group of people who are claiming to be perfect. We make mistakes, the music isn't always going to be your style, the preaching not always your speed, and there will always be that handkerchief waving, Amen shouting lady who doesn't seem to realize that it's time to quiet down. It's ok. Jesus wants this for you. He really does.
Go to church. Be the church.
"Hypocrites in the church? Yes, and in the lodge and at the home. Don't hunt through the church for a hypocrite. Go home and look in the mirror. Hypocrites? Yes. See that you make the number one less." Billy Sunday
**And I hope you all have a very Happy Valentine's Day!! I love you Jeff- so much more today then the day I married you. ;)