that ONE blog about church

Remember how I wrote a blog about not going to church and it blew up? It took me quite by surprise. It resonated with most people; others thought I was being prideful. Maybe I was, I won’t deny that possibility.

I’ve been waiting for the right moment to write a follow up to this controversial blog about a missionary who doesn’t go to church. And last night it may have come.

A friend asked me what I would say that my ‘calling’ is in a few sentences. And whenever I think about my calling, I think about what aspect of the world I am not okay with. And the consistent theme that I have found to not be okay with is for Christians to live like slaves or prisoners when Christ died to set them completely and fully free. It’s not okay for sons and daughters to live as orphans, and for the church to continue to believe that they are unworthy beggars in the kingdom of God rather than a redeemed people who have received an inheritance of sonship, royalty and dominion so that they might change the world.

My friend so kindly and bluntly responded, “It’s interesting that you are called to the church and yet you don’t go to church.”

Ha! All I could do was laugh. She is right.

It’s not hard to teach someone in a remote village a brand new concept about being loved and valued. It’s a little bit more of a challenge to show someone in the American church that this God living in the clouds that they have heard about their entire lives actually loves them without expecting anything in return…that he just loves them because he loves them. Because that’s who he is in his very nature.

But as I have heard more often than not recently, easier is not better.

So my conclusion is this: if I am not okay with this (you fill in the blank)…then what am I going to do about it? For me, I think the answer is pure, unconditional relationship without agenda.  Loving the church with the love that shakes down walls and displaces fear. And stepping into really uncomfortable, undesirable places for the sake of freedom. Even if that place is a really boring church service.

As the Persian poet, Hafiz writes…may I not be the small man building cages, but may I be a mature woman of sound judgment dropping keys of freedom all throughout the night for those who are daily living in bondage.

“The small man

Builds cages for everyone

He

Knows

While the sage

Who has to duck his head

When the moon is low,

Keeps dropping keys all night long

For the

Beautiful

Rowdy

Prisoners.”

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Space for Faith

I’ve been asking some questions lately…

Specifically one that was inspired by a Tuesday night Bible study with Caroline Schandel. Does faith have any place to land in my life?  There was a time when I determined to only live for the impossible things.  I wrote a blog about it and even dared to say this…

“I have come to the realization and confession before Almighty God that I do not care if I am not in control, or if I cannot see one step in front of me.  I do not care if everything around me seems impossibleI want the highest that God has for me.  I want to live in such a place that if God does not show up, I will fall flat on my face because I am so inadequate without him.  I want the kind of faith that puts all of my weight on God’s promises and watches his faithfulness carry me through all things.”

It’s easy to believe this and be so fired up about this in the moment and on the mountain top.  It’s tested when you’re in the valleys and surrounded by increasing uncertainty, questions and practicality.

Can I really have faith for something without escaping the responsibility of life?

Because I don’t think that sitting around, doing nothing proves a higher level of faith. I think that faith is actually proved in the risk and the trials. Those who are willing to face the fear, try and fail, and explore the unknown are walking in more faith than those who are unsure about the future but just sitting around and waiting for signs in the sky about their destiny.

Caroline made the point that just like the disciples in Mark 13, we often want the ‘what and when’ questions answered because it makes us feel safe, but Jesus doesn’t answer their questions in the way they expect so that he can protect the space for faith in their lives. If we knew all the answers or lived off of clear signs from God, where would faith and trust play into our journey? Even worse, where would relationship play into it? Anyone can follow signs. But I would guess that Jesus is more concerned with trust and faith.

So what I am getting at is that I still want to ask God for the highest! I’ve been reminded again and again that this is what I want, even when it requires more of me. And I am learning how to make the space for faith in my life and believing for the absolute best!

I don’t go to Church

Yep.  I am a missionary and I don’t go to church.

I have lived in Georgia, the heart of the Bible belt for about 2 years now, with no luck in this area. And I have tried again and again to find a church that I feel like is made up of real, broken, desperate lovers of Jesus.

But it’s a lot harder than I thought…

As I sat in church on Easter Sunday, I thought…”this is why I don’t go to church.”

I want to be careful about how I talk on this subject.  Because I love the church, and I so badly want to be a part of a group of people just living out the gospel (outside of where I work).

I don’t want to go to a concert.  I don’t want to have to wear sunglasses because of the multi-colored spotlights. I’d rather not choke on the smoke that fills the stage. I don’t want to watch We Bought a Zoo (oh yea, that happened). I don’t want to sing a verse, then a chorus, maybe a bridge, and then stop. And if I am going to fall asleep, my bed is much more comfortable than those padded church chairs.

I just want to sing a song of how much I love God, from the depths of my soul. And I just want to be real.  I absolutely do not expect perfection.  I would just really like genuineness. I’m sure people intend well and have good hearts, but that doesn’t change the emptiness that pervades the room.

I’m craving authenticity.  And the supernatural…I mean this is GOD, we’re talking about! And it’s frustrating to look again and again for a church that actually looks like Jesus…a man fully submitted to the Father and filled with the Spirit of God, yet find slim to none.

I love structure to an extent and I value order. But I wonder what it would be like for a group of people to gather together with no other expectation or agenda but to meet with the living God that we claim to follow. Does that really look like 3-4 songs, 30 minutes of preaching, a closing song and the offering? He’s got to be more creative than that!

If I can find that, I will start going to church.