I struggle with how church is done.
My frustration is the length and depth of an entire decade of deep, internal stirring and struggle. I constantly grapple with the reality of what church is and the (wrong) things that never seem like they will change. My frustration runs deep and chews holes through the sole of my heart. I try to resign myself, but I can’t. Am I a hopeless romantic or a naïve idealist? Am I stubbornly resisting what is only reality? Am I immature to want something more? To reach for something more? To believe something more? To expect that GOD has something more in mind for His Bride?
I struggle with how church is done. I struggle with what Christian community looks like today. I fight it, I dislike it, I stand against it, and is this why I feel so alone? Because I won’t accept what I’m supposed to believe is inevitable and unchangeable and so-called good? Because I reach for, believe in, and expect something more?
It wasn’t until the last few years the identity complex was introduced to me. You know what I mean, don’t you? The huge focus on who YOU are, what YOU look like, what YOU do. The idea that building the kingdom of God is inextricably intertwined with the discovery of YOU – your place, your purpose, your gifts – that’s right, YOUR identity.
Somewhere the focus shifted from Jesus, to us. From His kingdom to our kingdom. From His culture to ours.
I feel suffocated with nail-biting fury, emptied of passion and energy and drive. I am tired, weary, and warped. For the last I-don’t-know-exactly how long, I have struggled with depression.
When I air my concerns, I am met with a sympathetic hug, or a pat on the back, the “I’ll pray for you!” cop-out that avoids the head-on collision of ideas, the feigned concern that ends with “Maybe you need a different church?”
I yearn for something more. Something deeper. Something real?
It feels like we’ve become a disinfected church.
Our focus is inward.
Anything else we fit loosely into the leftover time we have. (We always come first.)
Everybody keeps telling me (in so many spiritual-sounding words) that this is an ugly necessary of life.
I feel confused.
Are we called to find out who we are, or find out who He is? If I have been created in the image of God, isn’t the truest way of self-discovery cashing in all that I am for all that He is?
When did Jesus say that building His kingdom, meant creating a culture of our own making?
When did Jesus say that we minister and make disciples after we figure out our family dynamics or our church covenant?
Do we have Biblical answers for our lifestyles and value systems because we’ve read Scripture how we want it to read or interpreted it with our own already-determined spiritual bias? (If the Pharisees were guilty of this, what makes us think we can’t be?)
David Platt, in his revolutionary book Radical, says this:
“Disinfecting Christians from the world involves isolating followers of Christ in a spiritual safe-deposit box called the church building and teaching them to be good… When we gather at the building, we learn to be good. Being good is defined by what we avoid in the world. We are holy because of what we don’t participate in (and at this point we may be the only organization in the world defining success by what we don’t do). We live in decent homes with decent jobs and decent families as decent citizens. We are decent church members with little more impact on the world than we had before we were saved. Though thousands may join us, ultimately we have turned a deaf ear to billions who haven’t even heard His name.”
The Holy Spirit witnesses in my own heart, that these startling words are truth.
I hear the call to righteousness.
The call to boldly go forth with the Gospel, proclaiming, not hunkering down in a “Godly” and safe community, sheltering myself from the people I have been clearly called to make disciples.
I bow my own heart.
Jesus, am I really willing to take up this cross and follow you? Knowing that you walk in the slums and the ghettos, amongst the sick and afflicted, am I willing to run in the path of your commands and offer your grace and truth and love to the prostitutes and cheaters, the drunkards and rebellious, the demon-possessed and the homosexual?
Or do I like my disinfected, disconnected, so-called Christian life too much?
Dare we call this the culture of Jesus?