Monday, June 19, 2006

Look out for falling bricks

Every once in a while something hits me like a ton of bricks. Sometimes I'm amazed at how slowly I figure things out...

I think I figured out another key difference between the Church that I now call home and the one that I grew up in.

Personal Relationship with God. In my past, that has always been one of those phrases that could spark a conversation in a flash (not unlike, "Praise Team", "Visitor Friendly" or "Home Bible Study"). People threw it around for different reasons... Some would throw it out there to show that they really understood what was important, others would cringe at it knowing that...others...would feast on such words chewing them up and spitting them out as some perversion.

It now occurs to me that in my past, I was encouraged to learn about God and develop my relationship with His Church and THAT would lead me to a closer relationship with God. As I studied scripture and discussed it with my Christian brothers and sisters I might mature as a Christian. My goal was to be considered a "mature Christian".

Only those that were busy with Church-work were growing...if you wanted to become more mature in the faith, mow the grass at the building, speak your mind at the business meeting, hang out at the office, be visible. I mean, how else does everyone else gauge your level of Christian maturity?

Now I think there's a better way. I know it may sound radical, but hear me out. I've seen it in action...

I am now seeing people walk into the Church building that already have a personal relationship with God. Their relationship with God does not depend on who they know, how much time they spend at the building, how many potlucks they attend, how well they sing...

They come to "Church" to enhance the relationship they already have! To combine their praise and adoration to God with others so that it might be more powerful and effective. They are not using "Church" as a sole means to get to God, they are participating in it to enrich a relationship they already have.

For me, that explains why I see people with very different backgrounds worshipping together, some are quiet and contemplative, others are active...raising their hands, clapping and even shouting, still others are in between. You see their "Church" has not defined who they are, but God has and how they (we) participate in worship to Him is expressed differently because the source of our faith is in Him, not brick and mortar, not the preacher, not peer pressure or our friends...HIM.

I'll keep looking up for the next set of bricks...

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"...Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:7-18