I've heard the church compared to a hospital. You know the concept...a hospital is for the sick, and the church is for those who are sick at heart (in need of salvation...or...healing). Jesus said it Himself in Matthew 11:28 - "Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest" Yep, I'm pretty sure Jesus wants us to come to Him.
In exploring that idea I began to consider what goes wrong that causes so many people in my life (and I bet in yours too) that say they hate organized religion. WHY do they feel that way, and what can the church do to help them feel differently? Again, I'm sure the reasons for not wanting to be a part of "organized" religion are as many as there are individual hearts out there...but I'm seeing, in my experience a general theme, and it disturbs me a bit.
I hear many tell that they don't need organized religion (and by that I am talking about Christians meeting together to worship) because they have religion inside themselves...meaning (I THINK) that they can worship God in their hearts and that is all they need.
I always cringe a little at the thought of "going it on my own" and even considering NOT being a part of the church God calls us to be a part of. It makes me nervous...and from what I've studied it isn't all we are supposed to do...Hebrews 10:25 comes to mind EVERY TIME...- "not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the day approaching" Ok, that is the part that says we need to be worshiping together...but, take a look at a big reason WHY we need one another in verse 24..."let us consider how we may spur one another on to love and good deeds"...well, there's one good reason why we are told to NOT FORSAKE. But, what about being in a group of people with character traits or behaviors as I described a couple paragraphs above...in those situations that is WHY a person leaves a church...so, what else does God say about our worship of Him within a church? Acts 20:7 - "On the first day of the week we came together to break bread, Paul spoke to the people, and as he intended to leave the next day he spoke until midnight" This teaches us that we are to "break bread" or take communion (a memorial in observance of Jesus that involves fruit of the vine and unleavened bread). On of the things we are to follow are examples set forth, and this example is set forth stating on the first day of the week...IF this were an in depth study of when we are to take communion I would go further...but, for our purposes today suffice it to say we have an example to follow that we are to take communion together on the first day of the week...Other scripture calls for us to be unified, or be of one mind...check out the following: Philippians 2:2; I Cor. 1:10. These scriptures speak about how we are to be unified as a church...be of one mind...be like minded...loving one another...SO, from these scriptures and other study I know that God wants us to be a part of His church, for those reasons and to worship Him John 4:24. The bottom line is God wants this, so who am I to argue the point?
OK...I've sort of talked around this issue...stating the problem, but not really having a clear answer...and here is the best one I have to date. WHEN people gossip about you, TAKE that sin to them in private and tell them...Matthew 18:15 (as talked about in a previous post). WHEN people say or do something that hurts you...well...MATTHEW 18:15...WHEN you are criticized or persecuted for doing what is right (can be seen as a form of bullying or elitism) I Peter 3:13-17...it is a long bit for this day, but take the time to read it...you will feel better inside yourself...AND REMEMBER our Lord was persecuted and killed because of our sins....The message I'm getting here is to be courageous and stand up for yourself and for what is right Deuteronomy 31:6 - "Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God goes with you, He will never leave you nor forsake you"
Right now in my life I feel a bit disheartened at how the church behaves toward people who are struggling. I've had some very hurtful events that make me want to stay home and just "have God in my heart". I try to speak up and be courageous...sometimes that has given a person a chance to save their souls by responding the way God asked them to...and that is WHY it was important for me to bring it to them...and sometimes...sadly, more often than not they either do not respond at all (a trait in abusive relationships...called devaluing), or they respond with more ugliness; which, is their problem, but it hurts just the same. Never the less...I love God more than I am afraid, and I do my best to put on my sincerest heart and my smile and go to worship Him because that is what He wants of me...and as for those who I have yet to approach...I pray for courage...and I also pray for discernment...God does not expect me to stay in an unbearable situation...sometimes it means to shake the dust off my feet and move on...Matthew 10: 13-14 ; Matthew 7:6 still to worship Him, still to find a place to do that the way He asked me to; BECAUSE HE ASKED ME TO. But he does NOT expect me to live with people wiping their dirty feet (or dirty intentions) on me...so, we have God give us ways to feel better, and find a better way within His commands and examples we are to follow.
I am NOT finished with this topic...except for the moment!
GOD BLESS YOU!