I am going to venture out into something completely different for me and am going to be participating in Spiritual Sundays this week, and maybe every Sunday that I manage to get around to it.
You see, this is a really new thing dating a man of the cloth. I never, EVER pictured myself dating a minister! I mean, I haven't even been a church-goer for well over 10 years. Though I have always been a very spiritual woman, and have told people that I am a Christian, I described myself as a "disillusioned, disenchanted Christian." I have encountered a lot of weirdness in the body of Christ. Sad to say, some of the biggest hurts I have ever received in my life were at the hands of those who called themselves Christians. People have said some of the stupidest things to me, feeling that they were sharing through Christ.
It was enough to make me feel like I never wanted to go back to a mainstream church ever again. Still, I longed to be part of a church again. I have longed for that fellowship. But I just didn't know if I could do it.
One of the things I really like about my sweetheart is that he writes eDevotions. He recently even had one published in the Upper Room daily devotional! When I received the following one in my email, at first I wondered if he was purposely stepping on my toes. Read on: and by the way, these are copyright per Pastor Mike, but if you want to use it or share it, I would be thrilled to pass on a message to him so that you can get his eDevotions in your inbox too!
This one is titled "China."
"Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world." 1 Peter 2:12
I’ve never been to China, but I bet it isn’t anything like Chinese restaurants.
For one thing, eating at Chinese restaurants you’d think that a nation of a billion people had only managed to come up with three kinds of soup. Also, fortune cookies aren’t Chinese. (True story – when fortune cookies were first marketed in China they were advertised as "Authentic – just like in America!") And they probably don’t really number all their food like that over there. And anyway, most "Chinese" dishes we see have been mutated into more American-type vittles. I bet when folks from China come here to visit they go to McDonalds, where at least they’ll have some idea what the heck they’re ordering.
What I’m trying to say is, you’d be nuts to make any judgments about the country of China based on your local neighborhood noodle house.
It’s no less crazy to draw conclusions about the Kingdom of God from your experiences with some church. But people do that all the time. Because they have found some congregations to be narrow, bigoted, insensitive, judgmental (you know this list as well as I do) they deduce that they are better off without the whole shebang. They can be "spiritual but not religious." OR, equally erroneous, because some churches have rubbed them that way at a particular time and place they conclude that they all must be that way. Listen, there are many, many churches where the love command is still on the books – where people who are different are welcomed, generosity is practiced, the sick and poor are treated with dignity, and folks are encouraged to use their brains. They just don’t show that kind on TV very much.
And while we’re at it some of those eggroll joints aren’t bad either. At least they’ll get you by until you finally get to make your big trip to China.
Like I said, at first this eDevotion kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I thought, "well, I'm not going to like them all." I also wondered if he was quoting me with the "spiritual but not religious" part, since I say that a lot. Turns out that he wasn't.
It still got me to thinking. Maybe it's time I put aside some of the hurts. As a counselor, I had a whole lesson on Forgiveness. Though I thought I had forgiven all the hurts, I was still letting them affect my life today.
Time to put it all in the past. Time to move forward. Time to stop letting what stupid things other Christians have done to keep me from getting with others and worshipping and praising my Lord again in a church family.
So I am not yet going to my boyfriend's church. For him, it will be a Really Big Deal for me to hear him preach. I'm happy that he so highly values my opinion of his work, and that he wants to be impressive. I've decided to start attending my son's church in the meantime. It still feels a little awkward, and I feel like a little bit of a fake after being out of the loop for over a decade, but the people are warm and welcoming. I feel fed. I feel accepted.
And I feel pretty darn good about it. Hallelujah!