I love the church. If you know Jesus then you are the church too; One of the many members of the Church, the Body, of Jesus, who is our Head. But I was brought up spiritually in a church building for many years, and I loved it.
Somewhere along the way I lost the mentality that I was there to grow in Jesus.
Oh yes, I was taught that I was the temple where Jesus lived, but I was also taught I had to be in a building to truly walk with him. It took me too long to realize that being a ‘church lady’ didn’t mean I knew anything about the heart and passion of God.
Oh, I yearned for it, so put on the face that I already had that passion filled relationship with Jesus, and had the pious face down pat, as if I had it together. I had the Christian-ease language down pat, too. For many years I was very involved in just about everything that was happening in the church building.
I was involved in potlucks, gospel sing alongs, committee meetings, bake sales, car washes, retreats, conferences and any other spiritual sounding activity that was advertised in the church building. Then I started a women’s ministry and it grew and grew. I absolutely loved it. I had a place and felt loved and accepted. I loved the people, the busy-ness, and the routine. I was really good at doing church and I looked the part, too.
I had a good heart.
I was so drawn to God and yearned to serve Him and thought that is what I was doing. But over time, more serving, and more ministries later it all became a checklist or a substitute for a deeper passion.
It became a “doing” instead of a “becoming.”
I still love the church. I just missed the whole point God was yearning for me to see for many years. If you have read my book, Climbing Out of the Box, you will see where it led me. However, I digress.
Somehow I loved becoming the church lady and mistook that title for becoming godly.
It felt so good to be in the church clicks, though. And I saw others left out of those groups to which I turned a blind eye.
So, I busied myself in those good works of bringing food to the sick, planning baby showers and helping at funerals, and teaching Sunday school. It can feel so good to be needed that it can become a substitute for a passionate pursuit of God.
Don’t get me wrong; Service, fellowship, and giving are wonderful and a part of the calling for every believer, but serving and doing do not equal a relationship with God. They do not get us closer to the mark, and sometimes can become a wall we hide behind. And so we pretend we know what we are talking about and every Sunday we sit in a pew, staring at the backs of heads, listen to a sermon, and go home.
And wonder why that gaping hole in our hearts is still there.
Every Sunday morning parents hand their babies over to the good people who work in the nurseries. Then they go serve in hundreds of places within the building. They may never even make it to the service, but it is okay because they have been to church. Some have hidden there for years.
So many of us are “doing” like crazy.
My coaching business over the last few years has been full of women and men, who were dying on the inside. Service and hospitality was not cutting it for them. Hearts are broken and lives are hurting. They longed to know that Jesus really loved them—somehow they missed that part while they were busy doing. They are worn out with good works without realizing how to have a one on one with Jesus.
Yet we keep signing up for one more thing.
Hoping we will find Jesus there.
When we get the church lady thing going it is easy to pretend we have it all together. I did. Everyone thought I was so together and many wanted to be me. I dressed fashionable, and had a sweet smile on my face. My kids were impeccibly dressed, and we were the ‘perfect’ family.
But inside; well that was another story.
My marriage was falling apart. I had been molested as a child and had not told a soul yet. I had not even begun my healing and was convinced I would go to the grave with my secret. So, I had to get even more busy to outrun the ugly truth.
Soon I learned I could fill that need to be validated by being in the church clicks and there was always a need for one more worker to keep it all going.
I became addicted to ministry to fill my gapping hole of need.
Ministry took the place of a passion filled relationship with a very real Jesus. It wasn’t until I lost it all did Jesus finally break into my religiosity and reveal Himself personally in all His glory.
And when that happened? I was doing nothing in the church– I had lost it all. It was in the wilderness of my life that I met Jesus face to face…when everything and everyone else was gone.
Only Jesus didn’t leave.
That is when I learned that I am the Church. You are the church. We are all the church body.
Getting off the merry go round of hiding behind our good works is about laying down all pretense and facades. It is about stepping outside the lines you have drawn around your spirituality and seeing what God has for you.
When we only ascribe the term ‘church’ to weekend gatherings or institutions that have organized themselves as ‘churches’ we miss out on what it means to live as Christ’s body. It will give us a false sense of security to think that by attending a meeting once a week and work ourselves to the bone; then we are participating in God’s church.
But if the church is something we are, not someplace we go, how can we leave it unless we abandon Christ himself? We can’t. We may join other believers anywhere, but it doesn’t define our personal love relationship with Jesus.
If we think only of a specific congregation as our part of the church, haven’t we separated ourselves from a host of other brothers and sisters that do not attend the same gathering that we do? Are we not called into the market place?
If you have hung your spirituality on inward files with neat little answers for every situation, hang on, because God is probably getting ready to blow the lid off of your box.
You may need to allow Him to restructure your thinking a bit of why you do what you do; with all the strong essential elements of your faith still there, just rearranged to reflect to you more clearly the heart of God.
Scripture does encourage us to be devoted to one another not committed to an institution. Jesus indicated that whenever two or three people get together focused on him, they would experience the vitality of church life. Out of that body life, of course comes service. But if that is what defines your relationship with God, you will soon become a “church lady” too…..Or maybe a “church man.”
I pray that we all are renewed in a passion for Jesus no matter where we find real fellowship with other believers; a genuine concern for each other and a willingness to serve the world with God’s love, which can only come from, not service, but relationship with Jesus Christ. Out of that relationship we will be His hand extended to a lost world.