Tuesday Talks with Lisa Hunt-Wotton
Hey, I’m not a Church Hater!
A couple of months ago someone approached me in a cafe and said, “Oh ……you’re the Church hater”! I was gobsmacked.
I had no idea what prompted this comment in a public forum by someone that I hardly knew.
Let me state for the record, I am not a church hater. Am I wary of the church? Yes, and for good reason. Do I believe that gathering together as Christ followers is a good thing, absolutely.
“The Bible tells us we need to attend church so we can worship God with other believers and be taught His Word for our spiritual growth. The early church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). We should follow that example of devotion—and to the same things. Back then, they had no designated church building, but “every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:46). Wherever the meeting takes place, believers thrive on fellowship with other believers and the teaching of God’s Word”. Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/church-attendance.html#ixzz3gOmyviIA
Church is the place where believers can love one another (1 John 4:12), encourage one another (Hebrews 3:13), “spur” one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24), serve one another (Galatians 5:13), instruct one another (Romans 15:14), honour one another (Romans 12:10), and be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32).
Heres the thing: no church is perfect because it is run by people. Where there are people there are problems. Churches in some ways are like families, they are diverse and they hit rocky patches. Each has its own rituals its own traditions its own ‘normal’. I would do Christmas lunch differently to how you would do it, I would celebrate holidays and birthdays differently to you. Yet we both have a family, unique and diverse but with similar aims and goals.
The Local Church is the Hope of the World
This statement was made by Bill Hybels at the Global Leadership Summit 2012 August 9-10.
Bill then went on to say that for the church to reach its redemptive potential it must be well led. It’s got all of the power of God available to it’s got incredible impact potential, its just got to be led by Godly, servant orientated, fired up, humble, growing leaders.
There’s the catch: The church is led by people, mostly men and there are times when men/people stuff up and get it horribly wrong. So for those who experience this, the Church is certainly not the hope of the world it can often be a place of hurt and pain and rejection. The Church likes to tell happy stories and have happy endings. For some people there are no happy endings. For some people life is just bloody hard. Where and how do they fit in to this happy clappy environment?
This is my point I guess. As good as the church is, it is actually Jesus who is the hope of the world.
Jesus is the hope of the world and the church is an imperfect vehicle that He uses to bring His hope.
People are flawed, Jesus is not. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11: 38
Hebrews 13:5 says: Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,“The Lord is my helper therefore I will not fear”.
Today I saw on FaceBook that famous pastor Joel Olsteen of the Houston megachurch Lakewood has moved into a $10.5 million mansion. Here is the contradiction: this is an example where the life of a church leader does not add up to the biblical model of how a church leader should be. The gospel is a message of justice and equality, of sharing, of enough for all, of giving to the poor and of living with humility. I’m not judging the Olsteens, I’m just using this as an example of how the message of the gospel and the message of the church sometimes does not add up.
One thing that really annoys me is that the church in some places has become a club for the churched only. Or should I say that some Christians only live, relate, converse with, hang out with other ‘Christians’. The church was never meant to be a church bubble. Jesus told us to GO. GO out into all the world. He didn’t tell us to keep to ourselves and only relate to Christians. I can’t tell you the amount of pentecostals that I know who barely know an unchurched person let alone have dinner or go on holidays with them. How will they know about the love, hope, peace and joy of Jesus if we don’t hang out with them.
I don’t mean preach to them, bore the life out of them, or treat them like some deadly disease. I mean love, genuinely love them because you just honestly do love them. Because they are amazing and have so much to offer. Our relationships with people should not be based on the Christian club mentality. What did Jesus say: ‘They will know you are Christians because of your love’. Not because you asked them to attend church with you or because you had standing room only at your last church service.
Look around you….. what percentage of time are you spending with only church people? What percentage of time are you spending in your community just being yourself, carrying the presence of God. Being a presence. Francis of Assisi said, go into the towns and cities and preach the Gospel, and if you MUST, speak. In other words just BE.
Now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 2 Corinthians 4:7
People don’t want to know that we are perfect and complete, we are not. They will know that we have Christ when, we love, when we go through trouble in this world but don’t give up, but continue to have hope. Where did we ever get the thinking that we are somehow different, better? The verse in Corinthians goes onto say that we are are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. That is the message of the Gospel.
You are no different, its not what happens to you but how you handle it. People need to see and know this. Stuff happens to all of us. Some may never attend a church service and they don’t have to, but they will never see Christ in you if they don’t know you. ‘There is only one world and its the supernatural one. There is not the good world where the Christian lives and the bad world where everyone else is. This is why Christ rent the veil in the temple. The Holy world inside and the unholy world outside became one. That’s why Jesus said the temple had to fall, there are no longer two worlds’ (Rohr). I am wary of churches that create holy huddles of exclusiveness but I am not a church hater.
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