Go to Church or Be the Church?

"To be or not to be, that is the question." ~Shakespeare

And really that is the only question when you are considering an authentic Christian life.  Can you really go to what you are?  Or should you just be what you should be?  Those are the questions and I guess there are many questions that I have in this process of re-examining everything I have been taught or have believed in my entire life. 

I am on a journey of trying to understand why people go to church when they can't be kind to their neighbor or love their own families.  Why do people go to church and abuse their kids at home?  Is going to a church really where "it's at" when it comes to living a fruitful life in Christ Jesus?  Does going to church make or break a person's Christianity?  Is it really commanded in scripture to go to a physical place for "church"? 

Or did Christ emphasize in the New Testament the fellowship of the body of Christ, the people, the being with other Christians(any time, any place, any where) for edification, for learning from each other using our own gifts equally and not just one gift dominating the fellowship(i.e. one person talking while we all listen), the giving of encouragement, the sharing of love and commitment to Christ, provoking each other to good works and for accountability and an extension of Christ's life into the community?   

Lest you think that I believe all churches are bad or that going to a good, healthy, fruitful church is bad, I don't, but it ain't everything either, in fact, it may be just a side item compared with this extensive, wild and spontaneous life we have when walking with the real Christ in the community and at home.  I think some Christians know and believe this, but I truly believe most in ignorance have no understanding of this thought.  In some cases, "going to church" doesn't mean much at all in comparison with the life that is being lived, there is no affectation.  In other words, "going to church" ain't working, it ain't doing a thing for you and it won't when it comes to giving you a heart of flesh in replacement for the cold heart of ruthless sin you possess.  

Christ and His forgiveness will do something for you that a church will never do for you and this all prevailing sense of gratitude to Him for His gift of eternal life will overwhelm you into following Him and only Him.  Just like going to church won't guarantee you a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, going to church won't take the place of an active participation in the kingdom of God on a daily basis.  In fact, God may ask you to leave a church so that you can focus more on Him or to walk away from an unbalanced, extreme group of Christians.  Whatever He asks you to do, it would be well worth doing.  Seek first His kingdom because His kingdom is within you and the community in which you represent Him is all around you and His church is everywhere.  There is no limit to God.

This life in Christ is happening all around me.  My Sundays, my everydays are full of the out of the box thinking that God provides.  And so far my day, this day when the parking lots are filled to the brim, has been filled with His plans, which would include talking for hours in bed with my kids, philosophising and laughing, making sure the neighbor next door has a working air conditioner installed in their new trailor home so that they don't wilt in this stifling heat, cooking a roast dinner so we can all eat together because they are tired of being without electricity, not having a working kitchen and eating PB&J's.  I sit here and the kids are playing with the neighbor's child, arm wrestling and playing a game of marbles while the lovely smells fill the house.

And the kind invitations to come to church continue from all sorts of well-meaning people.  I appreciate the invites and the concerns for my spiritual welfare and in some cases, such genunine concern it is and not a need to fill a pew to build egos.  We are given pity and even rebuke and we take it and say we are fine.  Don't worry about us.  We are conscientious believers in the One who continually pours out His grace upon us and for now we are conscientious objectors. We are and I repeat and have repeated, freetothink and freetorealize that we don't need to go to church, we need to be the church. 


Shari said...

This article explains exactly what my husband and I have been thinking for the last year or so. We were very involved in church. Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night and anything special in between. We then realized that our kids were suffering because of being up late on the evenings and whatnot.

After a series of events we decided church wasn't for us anymore and we had the same thought. We are the church and that's what matters.

Thank you for your honesty.

freetothink said...

Me and my husband were also actively involved with church for many years, but it definitely did not equal a fruitful life in Christ for us and especially not in the denomination we were in. In fact, since we have left the church, our life together in our marriage and with our children and in the community has improved and our ability to see all things, even of cup of cold water given in Christ's name, is part of being the kingdom of God has definitely reached new heights. The pressure is off, His yoke is easy and His burden is light and we strive to please Him in what we do, not a "church". Thanks for your comment, Shari.

NarnianGirl said...

Amen to this blog and the comments. This is the direction of my life for the most part of the last six, seven years - no more churchianity, but a living, vibrant, Spirit-filled fellowship with God and His children.
And yes, I do get well-meaning invitations too, plus inquiries from those concerned about my spiritual state :) I'm 100% happier and closer to the Lord than I was when trying to survive inside an abusive system. The fog has lifted!