Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Places of Worship

For the past several years, my husband and I have been "browsing" the internet in search of a new home. We have been doing so in a semi-serious kind of way, kind of waiting for the "perfect" price, place, and timing. Hasn't happened yet.

Today while I was having a quick peek at the MLS site we frequent, I noticed that they have some new tools added to the mapping feature. You can highlight schools, stores, etc. that are in the area of each particular property. One of the tools stood out for me; it was labeled "Places of Worship".

I haven't been "attending a church" for over two and a half years, and during that time have done a huge shift in regards to my understanding of church, worship, and being a Christian. So this label just struck me as being somewhat strange.

Last night, hubbie and I watched an episode of a sitcom. In it, a couple attended church, a Catholic mass, somewhat reluctantly. They filed in with the rest of the congregants, and dutifully stood, sat, knelt, and prayed as instructed. I was reminded of my days in the Catholic church, and also the time I spent in Evangelical churches. I was reminded of the many times I was there reluctantly, only going because it was the right and acceptable thing to do. I thought of the millions of folks who attend church, maybe weekly, or monthly, or only at Christmas and Easter, and consider that because they spent time in the building, they have "worshipped" God.

It's crazy, isn't it, to think that we need buildings, and services, and clergy, and worship teams, to worship God? That He expects us to construct and support and pour time, money and energy into systems and programs and buildings in a frenzy of religious activity and bureaucracy? That we have to leave our homes, get dressed up and drive to a special building and listen to a special man speak in order to fulfill His command to "not forsake the assembling together" of ourselves? Didn't Jesus tell the Samaratin woman (John 4) that a time was coming when they would neither worship at a certain city or mountain, but that God wanted those who would worship "in Spirit and in truth"?

In Romans Chapter Twelve, verse one, Paul instructs: "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship." He meant that our entire lives, all that we do, is to be done as a sacrifice of worship to God. That our "raison d'etre" is to live by and for God. Every motive and action is for His sake, acknowledging our dependence and need of Him for all things. For His glory. Twenty four/seven. Not for a couple of hours each week, standing or sitting mutely in a pew, following an order of service. That is not the worship that God desires.

I so wish that I could say that my heart is in an attitude of obedience and worship all the time. That won't happen until I get to heaven, because I am still a fallen sinner. But I thank God that He has set me free to worship Him wherever I am. That I am not still held captive by the lie that if I miss Mass on a Sunday, or Christmas Day, that it is a Mortal Sin and I will go to Hell if I don't confess it to a priest at Confession. That I don't have to be at every "service" that my church offers in an effort to prove to God, or others, how much I love Him. That I now meet with brothers and sisters in our homes to share our hearts, to edify one another, and to each give a personal testimony of praise to the One Who does not live in a building, but in each of our hearts.


Anonymous said...!

Have a Blessed Christmas Maureen!!

Anonymous said...

I say this out of "love" for those who have been abused in a particular church, and have been mislead by some so called writers or bloggers who have just enough "jesus" to make them dangerous. These people also have a tendency to down play the importance of the Word of God. So...

God instituted His Church as a new covenant community. It is a body of believers who confess Christ together. A biblical church is a collection of local believers who meet regularly together, live together, share together, and receive the sacrament together, and sit under the Apostles teaching together.

When a person becomes a Christian they join that community. There is no salvation outside the church. The church is God’s means of grace.

So it’s really not about buildings... rituals... or traditions.

Sound too strong?

Maureen said...

No anon, not too strong. I also write out of love, not only for those who have been outright "abused" or misled, but for the many, many more who go through their Christian lives in an atmosphere of spiritual repression, confusion, and discontent (I was one of these). These are the loyal ones, the sincere ones, who plod on in obedience to all of those traditions and rituals (many of which go against scripture). I want to see them freed. I write out of love for the Lord Jesus, Who intended to, deserves to, and will have a people truly called out, freed by grace to be and do greater things than were done in His day. I write out of love for the truth which sets us free, both written and in Divine Personage.

No, not too strong. Keep sayin' it.

At Heart Level said...

Maureen, this is just so true. Twice a month I have a conversation with my father about his ingrained belief that he is obligated to go to Mass and that is a "sin" to miss it. We discuss again the need for a loving relationship with Christ and even though he's started that, the familiar weekly fear and guilt still enslaves. Oh, to be free of "religion" once and for all!
Bless you!
Michele D

Suppresst said...

Perhaps coming out of institutional church can be likened to being like a rose bud in cold storage finally removed to a warm place where it can open and release its fragrance.

In church Christians do not realize their potential. Like a rose in cold storage that is still a rose by any other name, a Christian in institutional church is still a Christian by any other name, but has not realized his or her potential until removed from the hostile environment.

Becoming the blooming bud we need to be takes times, in direct proportion to how long we were in the cooler.