I get to this time of year, and I still can’t help but remember Angi’s last two weeks.
How brave she was. How much she endured. How quickly her faculties slipped away. How many people loved her.
Nine years ago.
I don’t want to forget. Ever. Not even if the last of my faculties slip away from me in the closing days of my life.
But I may not get that choice.
I also remember how those who loved us clustered around us — locally and virtually — and hoped/prayed for us and ministered to us. People who shared our faith. People who held other faiths. People who held no faith at all, except perhaps in other people.
They were our collective church.
And, ironically, in recent years that common desire of all those dear folks has contributed to the decline in my faith in church.
I’ve come to the conclusion that meeting as church and observing the sacraments and repeating the good words for an hour or three together one day a week has no value at all if we are not serving in the world the entire 24/7. None.
Yes, oddly enough I still have faith in the God who could have answered thousands of prayers and could have come through for Angi but didn’t. I don’t know His business, or how things work in eternity or what’s ultimately good as compared to what I want now. I know she didn’t suffer as long as she could have. I know that we all die; even His Son. I know that Angi was ready because she lived the life of the One she believed in, and served and loved others, often in selfless ways that humbled me.
It isn’t the Father, Son or Spirit I have trouble believing in.
It’s us folks who go to church, but aren’t the church any more or better than folks who don’t believe, but still live out a faith in others with love and compassion and grace.
So who’s lost and who’s not in this scenario? I’m glad I don’t have to sort it out, because I’m not qualified to judge. Just love.
I haven’t been to church in a year now. That’s not an indictment of anyone there; they are among the most wonderful and dearly-loved people in the world. They are my family, fellow believers and siblings in Christ. But I have to recognize that they are not the only ones who are children of God, dearly loved by Him.
I’m just not comfortable being in church and saying and doing the right things there, knowing that I’m not saying and doing and being what I should when I am not there. It’s an indictment of me.
But it’s also a deeply profound questioning of how we do things as church. How our time and resources are spent. Whether worship is for God or us. Whether service is for others or ourselves. Whether we need to spend on big buildings for 1-3 hours a week, or homes for the homeless and meals for the hungry and clothes for the shivering. Whether we need to spend for staff, lighting, projections, music in order to worship … or live out our worthship in service to others and reflecting God’s grace.
I think He’s big enough for me to be able to ask where He was when Angi needed Him.
I also think He has every right to ask me where I was when one of my neighbors needed me.
So, at least for now, I have pretty much lost my religion.
But I still have my faith.
Except, maybe, some of my faith in myself.
4 thoughts on “Being Church”
I happened to listen to a podcast this weekend that reminds me of your sentiments expressed below. You might appreciate the quotes I wrote down (attached).
Thanks for your honesty, as always. Having never met you, I feel like I have shared part of your journey through these posts. I haven’t been capable of being a well-connected member of a church in many years, due to a 12-year-long immersion in a cultish church that emphasized community and discipleship. “Shepherding” turned out to a euphemism for “control”. I would appreciate your prayers regarding whether the Lord wants me to write a book about it.
Many blessings be yours,
Notice: This email originated from inside of the organization. Links and attachments are safe to open.
Keith, you pretty much summed up exactly where my wife and I are in regards to “church”; it’s been five years now that we are not doing our “duty” the two hours a week. But we have declared that our home and help of others is our “church” and are good with that direction in our lives. I was in the game long enough to not “feel” entirely good about not “meeting with the church” but we are moving along. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks for a picture of your heart! Comments to challenge one’s own heart!
I do hope you regain that faith Keith, in yourself and in your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I love and miss you, I also believe Christ’s words of wisdom in Hebrews 10:24-25. We are exhorted to meet together to encourage one another. “We” are not perfect nor do we do all things perfectly but I believe we are striving to follow Christ in all things as do most of the Fellowships of Believers. Church is not to make us feel good but to guide us toward being a better Christian, sometimes that guidance can make us feel uncomfortable.