Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Will the REAL Church Please Stand Up

Warning: This is a potentially dangerous article because posting it on my church's women's Facebook page led to me being removed and blocked by leadership in ministry. While I did not state the name of a specific church or call out any particular person, it was found to be critical of the church and leadership. Either I am sinful in asking questions and discussing the conclusion I am seeing in the church in general or I have been silenced from the body. Of course, it stings, but I am trying to seek God, hear counsel, and do what is right according to the Bible. (P.S. I am not perfect yet... just a fellow Christian sojourner that shares her opinions, thoughts and feelings... always knowing that I could be misguided or not seeing the whole picture.)

What is the Church? Literally it is the 'called out body' or 'the assembly' of believers of Jesus Christ trusting in Him alone as their Lord and Savior.

Well, that includes a whole lot of people, doesn't it?

I am not sure. How many are pretenders?

No one can see someone's heart and no can know for a fact a decision in the soul is made by a person. We can:
  • hear their personal testimony of being a believer, but more powerful
  • we can witness their daily walk.
One truth that we can look for is a person who is alive spiritually, having the indwelling presence of God living within their human body, will be changed; and because God said, "He who began a good work is faithful to complete it", we are guaranteed by God to see Him do a good work faithfully completing a person who is truly a follower of Jesus to be transformed progressively into Christlikeness.

What we see of a person is what a person allows to show. Some people are very private; some people are very public. Some people only show their "good" behavior but behind close doors--in the privacy of their home--or when they think no one is looking, they display their "bad" behavior. A person is not always what they seem - the Bible says the heart is deceitful. And clearly most people try to cover up anything they do wrong.

So what is my point? Does what people see and experience really who the church is? And why does it matter?

The church we see on Sunday is the SHOW CHURCH! It is the very day of the week that people of the church, members (leaders), display the very best outward show of how they want to be perceived by the public (visitors) and weekly attenders. Of course, this is most natural if the focus of the day is visitors and the lost. 

We all know what it is like when visitors are coming to our home. We run around removing what might be embarrassing, cleaning, replacing and preparing the home. We are usually exhausted by the time the visitors arrive, but with a smile on our face, a sweat tea to offer in our hand, we graciously welcome them. And without missing a beat, we sit down and chat like everything is pleasant all the time.

(Of course, some people, homes and churches are exceptions, but you get my point.)

But when is CHURCH REAL? When are we real?

Isn't it during 'family only' times when we think no one is listening or looking? When do we let down our pretense and gather as brothers and sisters in Christ gracefully accepting each? 

The problem is the Sabbath, the Biblical day of resting with God, the one formal day of the week believers assemble IS God's children's FAMILY TIME! So who are we pretending for and trying to impress? If visitors come don't we want them to see who we really are... with our frailties and not yet perfected parts. And if we are doing so much to be appealing and comfortable, what does this mean for believers who don't fit the image? Do we hide them in the closet or the least visible pews? This must be a major problem and head ache for the church.

Could this be why certain people are frequently selected to highly visible areas and other people are regulated to behind the scenes? Does church put its 'best' members forward? 

I am not even sure it is intentional, but for the most part the majority of churches do. The leadership would stutter around and shift uncomfortably at this statement denying it's possible, but when is the last time they looked through the eyes of 'the least of these' in the family of God? the awkward believers? the big sinner believers? the not-so-right believers? the loud-mouths believers or the blunt believers...the ones that will blurt out in childlike innocence 'the emperor has no clothes on'?

Truly, it breaks my heart that messy believers, often the most needy of fellowship and experiencing acceptance, following a troubled life of repetitive abuse, trauma and personal injury by those they should be able to trust... are not wanted. Believe it or not, it is not uncommon for staff/leaders to suggest to such believing members to leave and find another church ... one that will be a better fit.

What are we--the believers of Christ--afraid of in the mainstream churches?

I long for God's church to function as the church - really representing the love of Christ in the body of believers who are in Christ, and at every/any present moment of time in the process of being molded into Christlikeness! Don't you?

For the sake of Jesus, we need to be REAL in order for people to grow in grace and experience Him, and no one is fooled by the counterfeit but those who are part of it. And most of all, the lost often want to stay lost because too many Christians and churches have not been examples of grace and love to all.

A Critical Heart  is an article written previously on a related topic.

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