For the past year I haven’t been going to church and I have loved it. I haven’t been reading my Bible because I didn’t want to. My whole life I have read my Bible “religiously” because that is what you are supposed to be as a Christian. Growing up our pastor used to say, “Get up early, get something addictive to drink and read the Bible for an hour.” In Bible study we would tell our students to read their Bible EVERY day and for most Christians we feel a twinge of guilt if we are not serving in some capacity, not tithing 10%, and not following at least the 10 commandments.
Being a Christian can be exhausting – that is if you follow what everyone else has to say instead of following you heart.
I pulled back from Church and from the Bible, but I don’t feel that I ever pulled away from God. I still prayed. I still knew he was there, he was and is still my rock and my foundation, but I just wasn’t “feelin” the routine and the rigidity and often times the condemnation that comes with being a Christian.
The Bible says, “There is therefore, now no condemnation, for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
I decided that God doesn’t want me to be guilted into reading his word. I don’t spend time with my best friends out of guilt, I spend time with them because I enjoy their company and because I love them. I don’t do nice things for people so that I can get something in return, so I shouldn’t serve Christ because of what I can get.
So I decided to stop going to church for a while and see what God would do in my life. I enjoyed my Sundays off where I didn’t have to get dressed up and then go through the motions of smiling and making small talk.
I stepped back and re-evaluated why I was going to church. Why?
To be spiritually fed?
To be seen?
To make friends?
To meet my mate?
Because I am supposed to?
Because it’s what I’ve always done?
At one time or another all of the above reasons were true and I think part of the reason I stopped going was because Church started to feel like this machine that I thought I could hop into and it would solve all my problems.
The simple reality of life is that it is always going to be hard and you are always going to have problems. The Church is not a hospital for Christians, it is more like Boy Scouts of America where you learn to survive in this wilderness.
What I would like for my church to be is a place of refuge where I can go if I am hurting and perhaps maybe even get some long-term care. I remember when I needed to see a therapist and Denton Bible had outsourced that part of their ministry to a local Christian counselor. I had to pay $65 so that a therapist could tell me, incorrectly, that I had a pride issue. That was the basis of all my problems and many Christians problems for that matter. I was then given a worksheet to take home and work through before I came back for a second session. I never went back.
So today I went to church because it is Easter Sunday. Yesterday I had decided not to go. My parents hadn’t really planned anything for us to do as a family. I didn’t have anyone to go to church with and Easter Sunday just seems like a time when you should be going to church with at least some friends. I ended up going alone and enjoying myself immensely. I was going for me and because I wanted to spend time with Christ on this most important of days.
I went to Irving Bible Church and I love IBC because there is this feeling of refuge and warmth and love. I love it’s simplicity and the pastor Andy McQuitty who I got to spend a weekend with in Florida on a Song of Solomon trip. It was great to hear the wonderful praise and worship and to be in an environment where people were coming together to make a change not only in their own lives, but in the communities around them.
They gave a brief talk on www.waterisbasic.org and how they are changing the lives of Africans in Sudan by providing wells. This program has raised over 450,000 dollars so far and is providing fresh clean water to villages all around. It is a simple way to show the love of Jesus and that delights me.
Lately, I’ve been missing my Bible. I’ve missed hearing the truth of God’s word and it’s purifying quality that nourishes the soul. Christ died on the cross and then rose again after 3 days, but I feel like for the past few months I’ve been dead and now I’ve been resurrected.