No More Birthdays (FAQ Part 4)
“I don’t want to have anymore birthdays,” said Noah my 4-year old son.
“I want to stay 4 years old all the time,” he added.
As I ponder this, I thought to myself, I don’t want anymore birthdays too. If I could stop aging, it would be now at 32-years old.
How about you and why?
I actually feel (physically) better now than when I was in my 20’s. But last year I could not make that claim. I was healing from my knee surgeries and trying to break free from my sedentary lifestyle.
I’ve also overcome some spiritual “ruts and nuts”; being set free from the religious rigmarole and those that promote it. I’m certain God didn’t call us to be religious nuts or fanatics. As a matter of fact, we are called to be lovers of truth that is found only in a knowing the true Jesus. He is not an imaginary friend but rather a physical and powerful presence in a believer who has been born again (John 3). To the outside world, this sounds strange and foreign because the truth is not in them….yet. I have hope that there will be a global spiritual awakening but it’s going to first start at home and trickle to every facet of life. I’m sorry to burst your bubble if you think a religious institution or man-made movement will make that happen.
#7 – So should I stop going to church, too?
I’m afraid that question also misses the point. You see I don’t believe you’re going to church any more than I am. We’re just part of it. Be your part, however Jesus calls you to and wherever he places you. Not all of us grow in the same environment.
If you gather with a group of believers at a specific time and place and that participation helps you grow closer to Jesus and allows you to follow his work in you, by all means don’t think you have to leave. Keep in mind, however, that of itself is not the church. It is just one of many expressions of it in the place where you live.
Don’t be tricked into thinking that just because you attend its meetings you are experiencing real body life. That only comes as God connects you with a handful of brothers and sisters with whom you can build close friendships and share the real ups and downs of this journey.
That can happen among traditional congregations, as it can also happen beyond them. In the last seven years I’ve meet hundreds if not thousands of people who have grown disillusioned with traditional congregations and are thriving spiritually as they share God’s life with others, mostly in their homes.
#8 -Then meeting in homes is the answer?
Of course not. But let’s be clear: as fun as it is to enjoy large group worship and even be instructed by gifted teachers, the real joy of body life can’t be shared in huge groups. The church for its first 300 years found the home the perfect place to gather. They are much more suited to the dynamics of family which is how Jesus described his body.
But meeting in homes is no cure-all. I’ve been to some very sick home meetings and met in facilities with groups who shared an authentic body life together. But the time I spend in regular body life I want to spend face to face with a group of people. I know it isn’t popular today where people find it is far easier to sit through a finely-tuned (or not so finely-tuned) service and go home without ever having to open up our life or care about another person’s journey.
But ultimately what matters most to me is not where or how they meet, but whether or not people are focused on Jesus and really helping each other on the journey to becoming like him. Meetings are less the issue here than the quality of relationships. I am always looking for people like that wherever I am and always rejoice when I find it. In our new home in Oxnard, we’ve found a few folks and are hopeful to find even more.
#9 – Aren’t you just reacting out of hurt?
I suppose that is possible and time will tell, I guess, but I honestly don’t believe so. Anyone who is engaged in real body life will get hurt at times. But there are two kinds of hurt. There’s the kind of pain that points to a problem that can be fixed with the right care – such as a badly sprained ankle. Then there’s the kind of pain that can only be fixed by pulling away – as when you put your hand on a hot stove.
Perhaps all of us have experienced some measure of pain as we have tried to fit God’s life into institutions. For a long time most of us hung in there hoping if we tweaked a few things it would get better. Though we could be successful in limited ways during moments of renewal, we also discovered that eventually the conformity an institution demands and the freedom people need to grow in Christ are at odds with one another. It has happened with virtually every group formed throughout the history of Christianity.
Masaganang Bagong Taon Sa Lahat!
If you’re looking for a resource to start off your 2013, I highly recommend Kirk Cameron’s documentary called Monumental.
Beckah Shae – Armor Of Light
Dominic Balli – Joy to the World
(The above videos are part of the post. I don’t have control of the advertisements they place below this page.)