I know that title is a bit ridiculous, and I mean no vanity or pride in this. At least I don’t think I do. Anyhow, I wrote a week or so ago about how I’ve decided to go back to church. I’m so glad to have come to this point. Yet, I’m a bit leery of this also.
I’m glad that the Lord has strengthened my faith and love for the brethren enough that I can go to church. This time last year I did the same thing, and I did not last long. I walked away very angry each time, cried in my car, and was utterly consumed by my over-zealous self. There was no peace in that, and it made it hard to refrain from judging things I had no place to judge.
So, I’m thankful. I’m thankful that though I see what is wrong in many cases, that I can also see what is good–and more than that–I’m glad to be learning to focus on what is good and true instead of being overcome by what is evil.
Even so, I wonder how long will this last? I pray the Lord keep my heart in peace and patience, firmly rooted in faith and love as the Lord would have me. What I mean is, how long will I be able to keep going to church before I’m found out?
Sounds strange, I know. There have been three instances in which I was directly preached to because of the work I do here at KindlingTruth. Or, I should say, misrepresentations of what I try to do. Nothing too rough or anything, but it was made clear that I was not welcome, so I did not return. I visited a church this past Sunday, and it was my second time going. This time they asked my name and the pastor announced it. I got kind of sick to my stomach, because the last time this happened I was soon found out. I have an idea of how this happened, and I suspect the slander only goes so far as a particular denomination locally. The church I am currently visiting is of another denomination.
Even so, because of the message of the sermon yesterday, I began to feel like a spy. Like an outsider, feeling things out and trying to see what this is all about. Is the kingdom of heaven found here? Or, is the kingdom of death found here?
I try to kind of laugh it off, but it is a serious matter.
I love sincere people of all Christian backgrounds, and it really does help my faith and love to get to know people from all over and see how merciful and good the Lord is to work in the hearts of people of differing beliefs in doctrine, worship, and Christian living. It is good to want to be united with people in the faith and not be so quick to want to tear it all down, as I once was.
Yet, it never fails that something preached makes my stomach turn. I will most likely write about it, and if found out, I will be asked to leave whatever church I am currently attending. Oh well. If this is how it will be, so be it.
I have no intentions of going in and disrupting things. I doubt I’ll even bring up what I believe unless asked. I’m there to observe and make friends, and then what I do outside of that is separate. We need to learn to separate ideas from people and consider how our actions affect the faith of others. Tearing away the foundations of another’s faith is not a good idea. I don’t force people to read this blog, and outside of this I do little talking of these things unless asked.
I love that the Lord helps me to trust him, and I do believe that part of my current growth process is to connect with other believers in a broader way. This does not mean letting go of my doctrinal beliefs and just accepting everything, but seeing the good the Lord does despite all the confusion and learning to love others as Jesus would have me. I’m thankful; it is a beautiful thing he does!
All this being said, I have something to write soon. I think I will entitle it “Dare to Question Your Pastor” since the sermon I heard yesterday was almost totally geared towards squashing “rebellion” in this particular church. There were some good points made too, even points that caused me to question and evaluate myself. So, I will write about the good that was found. However, I will also write about the dangers of belonging to a church that does not allow its members to question the almighty authority of its pastor.
My intent is to befriend others and to grow in faith and love, yet, my obligation is also to help stand against things that hinder the faith. This includes pastoral manipulation and harmful teaching. In going to church, as I encounter these things I plan to write about the good and bad I have seen. Could it be deceptive that I would enter a church and then later write about things I disagree with without first announcing my intent? Of course, if I was open and said, hey, here I am. Read this blog and accept me or toss me out, who would keep me around? Not many, I’m willing to bet.
It’s funny in a way. Everyone wants to be accepted and at the same time we are often prone to becoming defensive against those who stand against our faith-based beliefs. How can real peace and unity be found among such hypocrisy? Do not accept any outsider who believes differently–or God forbid–openly opposes. If we all have that mindset, then the church will always be divided. There is one way and one truth that unties all Christians, and we will never find that systematically if we are unable to love each other while disagreeing openly. What a pipe dream, I suppose. As individuals, we can change even if the system will not until Jesus returns. So, Lord willing, he will keep changing me for the better.