If it’s true that even the people in the church have foundational misconceptions about what God is really like, (producing a severe struggle to express His miraculous nature), then it follows that those with no connection to Truth will also have foundational misconceptions about what God is really like, (making it inconceivable for them to want to be a part of it).  As a result, many who are in the church don’t even enjoy being a part of it.  However, struggling to see any other viable option for the heart to interact with the One True Vine, they attend church services Sunday after Sunday, year after year, applauding a God they don’t really know, paying a pastor to do 90% of the work, (all the while criticizing him), going home empty and void of any real encounter with God, and no knowledge of how the Father truly feels about them.
In short, there is an epidemic of religious emptiness that can only be cured by one thing…God’s radical and scandalous grace.
The answer is not switching churches, starting a home church, or moving to a third-world country to give something we don’t have. The answer is to accept God’s free invitation to that fork-in-the-road, authentic, literal “Come To Jesus” meeting, where the soul begs for Truth, and refuses to budge a single inch regardless of loss or suffering, until the God of grace smilingly whispers our identity to us.  The world bows down to the love that fills the heart when God tells us our name.  Do this.  He is faithful to show up.

2 thoughts on “Listen…

  1. My question to this is, if these people don’t get anything out of church already, how do they make that soul-shifting change? And if they try and it doesn’t work, they still don’t get anything out of the church or the belief system included with it, where do they go from there? It seems only in the deepest pit of misery do people ‘cry out for God’ with such sincerity that God ‘answers’ them. If you’re not in that place in your life, then what?

    I ask because I went through all this. I went to church for at least 2 years of my life for the sake of my mother, who raised my Catholic and expected the routine of church every Sunday to just stick. The event of going to church, however, has no soulful, spiritual effect on me. Trust me, when I was younger it did, so much so that I was a reader for mass. I feel not only uncomfortable during mass, but also disrespectful. There are so many around me who deeply are effected by attending mass, who truly feel closer to God in the church.

    I don’t. I feel closer to god while I sing in the car, sit and write a poem in the park, or take a walk with my dog. I have a much more environmental connection with god. I also have a LOT of issues with the belief system that is the Christian religion. All of the human flaws and faults and arguments and hypocrisies involved in religion itself distracts me from my relationship with god. So I don’t attend church anymore. I experience god every day, and am aware of that experience throughout the day. This makes me happy, euphoric, and at peace. Shouldn’t that be all that really matters? Having a sincere, personal relationship with god?

    1. Rana,
      Thank you for your insightful and honest response. I really like that, and I deeply appreciate your questions (even though I assume some, if not all of them, are rhetorical). However, I’ll respond to some of your thoughts, as I too have many questions and I often ponder when I will have the answers.
      It’s true that sometimes it’s when we are at our lowest points, suffering and in pain, that we ask God for some sort of help. And in many ways that is His design in order for us to realize Him as our Great Rescue. But that isn’t exclusively how He relates to us. And by us (for simplicity’s sake) I mean believers. Christians. Born again. His Children. A lot of the time we think that we have to be brought to our lowest point before God will talk to us at all, out of a misguided sense that we deserve punishment (this is perpetuated by the religious church culture that I, and I believe God also, is opposed to). But we don’t continue to be punished by God. Not now. Not anymore. ALL punishment. ALL disapproval. ALL anger and wrathful feeling, was delivered fully and finally to Jesus when He became sin on the cross of His suffering. I know I know, sounds all Sunday School and stuff, but it’s true.

      So yeah, we think that when things are good, it’s God being nice to us out of some kind of obligation for something we did right a few years ago, and when things are bad, it’s because we really suck right now. But none of that is true.

      So saying all of that, in relation to what you said about not getting anything out of church or the belief “system” related to it….I want to offer a hearty and heartfelt “YEAH I KNOW.” Now, before you think I’m a disgruntled church-basher, I’d like to point out that I am certainly not, but conversely, I am DEEPLY in love with God and His church. But the “church system” and the paltry, weak, religious, legalistic mindset of the majority of what is known as “The American Church” today? No. No I am certainly not enthralled with that. I am appalled at that. But deeper is my fascination with the Father who has literally rescued me from myself, than is the hatred of His misrepresentation.

      On the subject of your environmental connection with God. I get you. I applaud you for your expression. I don’t believe we should worship nature by any means, but if one reads the bible with any common sense at all, it’s easy to see that God likes relational environment. He knows how to set a stage. He likes ambiance. He created many things for us to enjoy and all of those things point to Him as creator, provider, Friend, Father, and the giver of smiling pleasures. He’s frikkin fascinating isn’t He?

      About your statement/question, “Shouldn’t that be all that really matters? Having a sincere, personal relationship with God?” I say yes and no. Yes, because at the end of the day, if you KNOW how God feels about you (which by the way, is exactly how He feels about Jesus His Son, otherwise I’m screwed), that’s what matters. No, because actually, everything about you matters. Your mother, your experience with the Catholic church, your feeling of “disrespect” during mass, and your current “take” on God and how He feels about you. All of it matters. And what I mean by that is, God is sovereign. And every single gust of wind that blew your hair when you were five and playing with your friends, to the smell of the air when you attended mass, to the giddy thrill of being a reader in church, to the feeling you had in your gut yesterday about how your day was going to go……ALL ordained, and sovereignly orchestrated by God. He knows. And it matters.

      You may not be at your lowest point right now at all. And even now, there is a place to call out to the Father with sincerity and experience His voice, His calm, His delight in you. This has nothing at all to do with “church services.” This has to do with our Father. And one of the keys is, we’re not alone. We’re in this together.

      Thank you for your comments Rana

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