Isaiah 41:9 (the message)
I pulled you in from all over the world,
called you in from every dark corner of the earth,
Telling you, ‘You’re my servant, serving on my side.
I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’
I am a church girl.
A bona-fide, true-blue church girl. Save a few years in my twenties, I’ve gone all of my life. And that’s a good thing! It’s what I hope for my own children…tightly knit members of a life-giving church family.
But I want more for them, for my family, than being good church people.
See, church people sometimes fall into thinking attendance, serving and smiling dutifully is currency with the Almighty.
But what does that mean for people who don’t go?
Are afraid, just know the place will ignite in Hell-fire if God sees them walk inside.
Are ashamed, don’t want to deal with people….church people…who so easily judge and exclude sometimes.
Are resisting, bucking pressures from other human beings to prove themselves in a pew.
Are disinterested, don’t really care to hear from the Bible or change anything about their life.
Are disgusted, see church as a club for hypocrites who preach one thing and do another.
Are timid, want a fresh start with God but unsure how to bridge the gap.
Are confused, lost as to what is absolute truth, if there even is an absolute truth.
Are weary, tired and exhausted with trying and failing.
The Bible says believers should gather together and not stop (Hebrews 10:25). Important things happen in our lives and hearts when we gather together in Jesus name. Encouragement, discipleship, teaching, receiving, giving, and healing just to name a few!
Life-giving churches are like an oasis in the desert. A place to be refreshed and refueled. A place to come in haggard and weary and leave expectant and whole. A place where God’s presence and Word comforts and convicts.
But here’s what happens so often among church people. We’ve been groomed and grown up inside. We know the lingo and the Bible stories and can flip to the scripture reference with ease.
And we feel pretty good about it.
But sometimes placid tradition replaces passionate persistence.
We get ourselves up on Sunday mornings and might even slide in for a mid-week service. We march the family toward the steeple in our Sunday best or glide in with a cup of coffee in our jeans and flip-flops.
We fit. We are acclimated. We do church well.
We are church people.
I’m not a theologian. This isn’t doctrine. It’s simply my own heart’s struggle as a church girl. Because I have such an easy time functioning in church world, I sometimes have a hard time relating with why others don’t.
I’ve pressured. I’ve judged. I’ve made church about proving something.
Sometimes I’ve made church God.
But church is not God. God is God.
Jesus-followers are the church and when we gather it’s an opportunity for amazing God-things to happen. For those afraid, ashamed, disgusted or disinterested to ask their questions, express their doubts, shake their fists and still be loved. Find answers. Discover Creator.
Not because they learn to be good church people. Because their hearts collide with this amazingly good, kind and compassionate God.
I’ve lived in some of those dark corners. Drifted along and slipped through some cracks. Lost my ease and Sunday smile more than once. Even stopped being a church girl and stayed far away from church people.
But then He pulled me back in.
I haven’t dropped you, He whispered.
Maybe you are like me. A church girl. A church boy. A veteran. Maybe sometimes you feel impatient with people who don’t go. Maybe you judge them. Maybe you pressure them.
Maybe you need to let go.
See, the truth is sometimes we want people to go to church with us because it makes us feel better. Think about it a minute. Are you angry and annoyed when someone refuses to go?
Do you think God is angry and annoyed with them?
My prayers are shifting…
Church is Biblical and a vital place for believers to grow together. But sometimes people aren’t going to meet and discover God at 11 am on Sunday morning inside a steepled building.
So that means I gotta be a Jesus-girl. We gotta be Jesus-people.
Be the whisper of His love calling. Be the road they can travel. The bridge they need. Walking along side instead of giving directions.