I was driving by a church recently and their marquee continues to bother me. “Christ gave his life for you. Can’t you give him an hour on Sunday?”
Really? Just an hour? That’s all I have to do? Show up at church for an hour and I’ve repaid what Christ did for me?
I grew up on the Gospel of “3 Times A Week” and the idea that showing up for church is the best right-thing I could do. As long as I was at church I was doing OK. Drinking too much? Showing up at church dressed right and listening to the preacher was the best cure for that. Using drugs? Showing up at church dressed right and listening to the preacher was the best cure for that. Having sex? Lying? Stealing? Eating too much? Prejudiced? Showing up at church dressed right and listening to the preacher was the best cure for that.
The problem I continue to wrestle with from my training is the idea of “at church” instead of “be church”. I have heard too much about the need to be at church as the cure for all the worlds problems when Christ called us over and over to be the church to the world.
If I am being the church, how much time do I have for drinking and drugs and illicit sex and hating another person because of skin color or where they live? Being the church is a consuming task and one that requires me to think about others instead of myself all the time.
Congregating is good. It is needed. It is a positive energy producer when we surround ourselves with other people who want to be the church. People love being with people who build them up, feed them spiritually and emotionally and go into the next day and week with the energy that we are serving others, we are building others up, we are feeding others. That’s exciting. That’s energy building stuff that motivates us and moves us.
An hour on Sunday? C.mon Pastor. Jesus asks for our LIFE, not an hour. He calls us to LIVE like him, not sit on your pew and make you feel good that we showed up to hear you.
I’m not giving up an hour of my life to be AT your church. When you are ready to engage me AS the church, let’s talk and see if we can’t find a way to change ourselves and the world to be what Christ has really called us for.
Grace and peace.