Friday, May 27, 2011

Religion is easy, relationships are hard

Deconstructing Neverland: Simple church is anything but simple

Another great post from Bobby Auner this morning. Turns out being in a simple church is often not very simple. It seems people are still people even when you take away the pews and pulpits! I loved this paragraph near the end of the post (you should read the whole thing tho)

All of this is necessary if we are going to be a family. As the saying goes: "you can't pick your family". I think if we could, we would pick the people who think like us, act like us, and hide their struggles and sins from us as best they can. That way we could feel like we had a lasting relationship but it would only last until someone rocked the boat. Then it would be time to find a new "family" which shouldn't be hard because we haven't left the shallow waters.
That is a really great observation, maybe one of the best I have ever read. It is “easier” to find groups of people who look like us, act like us and think like us. Denominations and the various doctrinal statements and creeds make it even easier. With the internet we don’t even have to show up. I could probably find a Baptistic church in our area that has a plurality of elders and holds to the doctrine of grace in about 5-10 minutes of looking without ever leaving my chair. Groups like 9 Marks, Together for the Gospel, Founders Ministries, etc provide lists of “good” churches on their webpage and I have used those lists to pick out churches in the past, long before I ever darkened their door. In doing so I intentionally if not consciously was cutting myself off from lots of other Christians that I will now likely never meet this side of eternity because they went to churches in the “wrong” denomination or they were insufficiently Reformed or any of a slew of disqualifiers.

When we stop looking at the church as a bunch of competing demographic groups to pick and choose from and start looking at the church as a family formed and selected by God, we start to realize that there is something inherently wrong with dividing ourselves up into subgroups to match our preferences and simultaneously keeping out people we might disagree with or not get along with. The result of that is having relationships with people because God has made them part of our family, not because we chose them to associate with because they are like us, and that is going to make life difficult just like it is in any family.

In spite of that, it is well worth the effort and frequent messiness. It is far easier and more sterile to gather with people that look, think and act just like us for an hour and call it church but along with the stress and messiness of simple church comes real, rich relationships.

What is easy is rarely what is best.

1 comment:

Don Litchfield said...

Thanks for this post! You have expressed well what I have considered to be important: the church that Jesus might choose for us could very well be the one that we would most quickly shie (sp.) away from. If Jesus truly wants to build His church, He will want to choose the stones He wants placed together for His purposes.
Some various purposes would be:
1) sanctification in a process that works best when Self is exposed, and that often amidst those whose rub us the wrong way
2) there are specific ministries that He has planned for our families that will be effective only because we are so involved with specific other families
3) our children's companions will be found through God's ordained placement for our family's worship
4) the call to a specific church body likely has more importance in the eyes of the Lord than our (His) choice of job (career) and home (I am sure there are others)
Until we come to realize that our lives, our families, and our church relationships is not about us but about Him, we will continue to make our own choices according to what is pleasing or displeasing to us. We will miss most of what Jesus has planned for us and our families.
If He is Lord, then let Him be Lord of all our lives; let us be willing to forsake "all" that we might obey Him continually. God must be first above all (Luke 13:27, 33).
The Lord's blessings upon y!ou and your family as you enter this blessed Lord's Day