Before I say anything, I want you to know I love God. It’s important for me to say that straight out. I love God and because of that love, I’m able to love everything around me. Most of the time, I don’t like what is around me, but I love it just the same. Because as a wise woman said, we need to see the God in everyone. And I’m trying to do just that.
But right now, I think I’m failing you. I want you three to also love God the way I do. So I take you to church, we read devotions, and we pray together. Every week I drop you off at Sunday School, so you can develop a relationship with God. We go to church as a family every Sunday. And although I know I’m making you guys great churchgoers, I’m afraid I’m not making you very good Christ followers.
The scales lifted recently from my own eyes. I have been a faithful church goer since I was born. Except in college, because I loved sleeping in more. But in my adult life, I attend, I tithe, discuss the bible, and I pray with people. Every week I meet with an accountability group and I like to think occasionally I break through my resolve and connect with God.
But all I am is a churchgoer. And I want to be so much more than that.
The current state of Christianity in the US is not something I’m proud of. I don’t believe that if the apostles came back today they would recognize the faith they fought so hard to spread.
The faith they gave their lives for, so we could have true life.
So although I do all the right Christian things for you, I am starting to feel like I am back behind the cloth with the wizard keeping the mirage going. Because what I am learning to see, and what I feel, is that being a Christ follower has little to do with what Church has become.
Church isn’t the music we listen to.
Or the sermon we hear
Or the prayers we say
Or the liturgy we follow
It isn’t a set of rules we vote on
It isn’t a place where we surround ourselves with people just like us
Church isn’t a place.
What I have learned from people like Jen and Brandon Hatmaker, Kristin Welch, Shane Claiborne, Mother Teresa, Glennon Doyle Melton and so many others, is loving God and following Christ is so simple, but so very hard. It’s more than showing up on a Sunday. More than a worship experience. More than serving. More than following rules. The Church is the entire world and we experience God by living life with him.
True faith causes us to self-reflect a lot. And through that reflection, change. And that change will cause us to go into the uncomfortable area of loving so hard that people can’t help but love us back.
Be a witness of Gods’ love to people, not a hammer.
What I want you to see in me is love. Spreading love so far and so wide to so many people that the kingdom of heaven is no longer a place that keeps people out, but welcomes them in. Because God includes everyone, even if the church doesn’t.
Following Christ is being in relationship with God, so we can be in relationship with the world. It isn’t following the right rules or saying the best prayer. Following Christ is always letting forgiveness trump the rule. (Thank you Momastery)
Sometimes I think we hide behind our church buildings because we are afraid of the cost it would take to make the world our family. The church tells the people what they should believe, and then expect them to come storming through the doors.
And are surprised when no one comes.
If you learn anything from your parents, I want you to learn this one thing. Jesus didn’t sit in a church on Sunday morning waiting to be entertained.
Jesus spoke against the status quo in the temple and then went out into the world spreading love to those the faithful ignored. He let the kingdom of God shine through his actions to those who needed it most. He loves everyone.
He didn’t do good things because he had to. He did good things because he loved God and therefore loved people.
All of them. Even the Pharisees.
To be honest kids, I want to leave the church some days.
I want to go out into the world and show Christ’s love. That no matter how lost we think we are, there is always a path home.
And most important, I want you three, my children, who have the capacity for such great love, not to lose it because I taught you to become a churchgoer.
Instead of a Christ Follower.
You have heard me rail a lot against the Church recently, and I’m sorry. I don’t want you to ever think I have given up on God. Because I believe that God breathed new life into me. He took a broken 28 year old and worked on her heart until her dry bones began to feel again. He taught me that no matter how hard life is, it is incredibly beautiful. And because of that gift, I can’t sit back and watch it wither in other people.
But where we are right now in the church, I can’t understand how anything new will grow from infertile soil. I have to admit, I’m a little scared.
I want the church to go out into the world and love so hard, that people will want to find our source of strength and life.
I don’t believe there is one church out there who gets it right, but I hope one day all of them will. And they can if each one of us remembers what it means to be with God. Churches don’t make disciples.
God does. He calls each one of us, individually where we are. He calls each one of us differently and uniquely. There is not one size fits all when it comes to kingdom work. Every creation is handcrafted. Every life divinely lived. Every life precious, loved and cared for.
Don’t forget that.
I don’t want you, my children, to be church goers.
I want you to follow Christ.