Wednesday, April 20, 2011

CHURCH, Part 2

Misconception 2:  Church happens on Sunday.

Trust me, I already know what you are thinking.  Words like heretic, heathen and anti-church are coming to mind, but before you tune me out, before you pick up that stone, just hear me out.  The second misconception about Church is only spurred on by the first.  It revolves around this whole idea we call the Sabbath.  Afterall, God did create the Sabbath for man and not man for the Sabbath (here we go with ME again).  God said it, not me!  And who am I to argue with God, what He says goes (at least this time).  So it starts again.  We twist the Words of God to benefit ourselves.  We begin to think that it would be great if every other day were more like Sunday—or at least our version of Sunday (the one that’s about ME).  Quickly we forget that Church isn’t something that happens once a week on Sundays.  However, more often than not, the church is least like the Church when it comes to the weekly services they hold.  (You might be surprised to hear this, especially from a pastor.)

I believe Church has less to do with what takes place on Sunday (or whatever day is your Sabbath) and more about the decisions we make and the way we live our lives the remaining 6 days.  I would argue that the Sabbath is a very small part of what this thing we call Church is all about.  The main point of the Church is to not come together one day a week and benefit each other, but to go out and benefit others.  The Church shares the call God gave to Abraham to be a conduit of blessing.  In Genesis, God tells Abraham that He will bless him.  Not so he can be blessed, but so he can go out and bless the world with his blessing.  Again, the temptation of God’s people to be self-centered and hoard the blessing rises up within each of us.  It happened over and over with God’s chosen people.  And it’s no surprise it still happens today.

If the church is going to be the Church, there are a few things we need to change.  To begin with, those of us within the Church have to look outside the four walls.  In the history of membership based institutions—fraternities, clubs, secret societies, etc.—none of them existed for anything but themselves.  But the Church is different—or at least it’s supposed to be.  The Church is the only “club” that exists solely for the benefit of those outside its confines of membership.  The Church isn’t supposed to cater to the whims of its congregants.  The Church doesn’t even exist to meet the needs of each of its parishioners.  (Yes, the Church should take care of its members and meet their needs, but, again, that is not the main point.)  When we begin to turn the church inside out—quit focusing on ourselves—we can usually begin to see that our needs are already being met.

A tangible example that comes to mind is the mission trip.  Have you ever been on a mission trip?  If you are anything like me, you always have these dreams of grandeur about how important the work you are doing is (which it is).  You always seem to believe you are going to change someone’s life forever (which you will).  You think this trip may just change the world (which it might).  But the person that usually winds up getting the most out of the trip—is you!  It is this paradox in letting go of self and serving others that your needs are the most met.  I can only wonder if this is part of what Jesus meant when he said, “…he who loses his life will find it.”  I’m not sure how it works.  I can’t really explain it.  It just kind of happens.

As I said before, I wholeheartedly believe the main work of the Church doesn’t occur on Sundays.  We spend so much time striving to turn Sunday into something special.  We take care to put on our Sunday best.  We make sure we are clean shaved, take a little extra time making sure our hair is just right, look in the mirror to make sure our tie is perfect, jump into our recently cleaned Lexus hybrid (I’m not sure they’ve made these yet) and head to church listening to our favorite worship album.  We give so much effort trying to make Sunday special.  We think it has to be different from every other day of the week.  I wonder what would become of the church if we inverted our thinking and strived to make every day look more like Sunday (or in some cases, tried making Sunday look more like every day of the week)?  Would Sunday be totally different…or would everyday be totally different?  If we are only the Church one day a week, 52 days a year, we have failed!

I hope to expand your view of church.  Take inventory and ask yourself these questions.  Do I worship God any other day of the week (I don’t just mean stick in a worship album while you’re at work)?  Do I open my Bible when a preacher isn’t in front of me (or does it sit on a shelf collecting dust)?  Is my only prayer time before each meal?  Do I really think God is impressed by what I wear to His “house of worship”?  Do I tithe my money to the church, but fail to help those around me who are in need (my neighbors, my co-workers, my friends, my family)?  There are numerous other questions one could ask.  These are just the beginning to making everyday Sunday (and I’m not referring to the band).

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