I sometimes feel that church does not help me in my relationship with Jesus. I sometimes feel that it gets in the way. There is a lot of scurrying around, a lot of paper, noise, staging of things, lighting, fashion, clock-watching, distraction, and method. I am both sensitive/creative and prophetic in my gift set, and so, in the circus that church can seem to become, I begin to feel overwhelmed, discouraged, stressed, and worried that we are doing a great disservice to those who would call themselves followers of Christ. Perhaps we are not teaching (or showing) them surrender or obedience or humility or a life of prayer, or relationship. It can seem that we are showing them how to rush around and convincingly have a set of beliefs, aka a religion, but not leading them deeper and deeper into relationship with Jesus.
Sometimes I feel that we are spinning our wheels, not really connecting with the whole Person of God in church services, not really giving priority to the living, breathing Person that He is. Just talking about Him, never to Him. And that maybe we are attempting to control people and their behavior for our own ends, and distracting them from living a wild, free, obedient life of adventure with the One who invented freedom and adventure.
Sometimes I feel that the American church supplants Jesus in the human heart. Another box to be checked, a other duty to be done. I find that many of my Christian friends lack joy and peace, a sense of purpose, and the feeling of freedom. This concerns me, because all of those are regular and normal byproducts of regular interaction with Jesus. And of course everyone has bad days too.
I mourn the lack of prayer in our churches, that are meant to be houses of prayer. I struggle with the priority that marketing and advertising seems to take over worship and true fellowship. I try to cooperate and be humble, but I’m also prophetic, and so part of that is the ability to see the big picture, to define and identify, and to encourage, exhort, and comfort believers toward a closer walk with Jesus. Which sometimes comes out as more of a challenge than a comfort 🙂
I am learning to use this gift rightly.
But as a prophetic intercessor I am also called to protect the Body of Christ with my prayers.
It’s sort of a weird clash of callings. Speak truth with grace. Protect and challenge. It requires balance. Ha. It requires the power of the Holy Spirit!
Perhaps you feel the same way about church at times. You are not alone. You are not crazy. These issues do exist. We are far more caught up in vanity in the American church (generally speaking) than love and sincerity.
I felt this way all weekend. So when I prayed this morning, I asked Him, “Why does church seem to be such a distraction for me? Why do I seem to have so much trouble being at peace there?” And He immediately reminded me of a passage in Isaiah. I opened it up and it helped, like salve to my sore heart.
God says He loves His church. His bride. He never gives up on her. He is wild about her, wrecked for her, long suffering and kind and patient and so merciful. He looks for ways to show her. He is busy doing good work in hearts that no one else might be able to see. Just because I can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. “For we know in part and we prophesy in part…” He is building the story, the testimony of His church, so that she will shine with purity and beauty at His return. I look forward to this day. I look forward to Heaven where things will be done right, from the right heart.
Among my (many) issues with church that never seem to fully go away, the main one is that I long for is sincere love among the believers. Love without hypocrisy. True sincerity. This is the main thing that gets under my skin: Pretense. Lip service. False motives. Selfish agenda, which I can smell a mile away. A show with the goal of entertainment and not relationship. It bothers the Lord too, though His response is beautiful:
“In as much as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men, therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, a marvelous work and a wonder; for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden.” Isaiah 29:13-14
A marvelous work. A marvelous work and a wonder. This is what the Lord says He will do in our fickle, vain hearts. I looked these words up in Hebrew.
Marvelous is pala. It means to be separate or distinguished, great, difficult or wonderful. To accomplish hard, hidden things too high. To work miracles and make wondrous things.
Wonder is pele. It means a miracle or wondrous thing.
This is what God promises to do in His church, in His timing, even when she is not sincere in her heart toward Him. His faithfulness has nothing to do with us. Wow! There is no One like Jesus.
So, I am encouraging myself today too with these words:
Don’t give up on the American church. Jesus loves His bride. Don’t turn your heart away, or begin to pretend, even if it sometimes feels hollow. It isn’t hollow. Fight cynicism. When it doesn’t take the shape you think it should, stick it out with a soft heart. Be honest. But stay soft. Stay faithful, stay humble, stay prayerful. Ask for a heart that loves the Body of Christ unconditionally. Ask for this marvelous work to come to pass. Ask for a wonder. Miracles. A spiritual awakening of prayer and worship and relationship. There is a fullness of time, a ripening. It will happen. He knows the hearts of all. He is working, accomplishing hard, hidden things too high for us to see just yet. His ways are higher. He’s got this. Be obedient. Stay dependent. But don’t give up. Don’t give the enemy fuel for confusion, division, detours, and distraction. See this through to its end, full of joy, looking forward to His marvelous work. Don’t leave a particular congregation until you’re released – there will be peace and joy all over it. Resist isolation and resist offense. Stay humble. Humility is a requirement for soft-heart survival. Pride will leave you shattered. Stay flexible. You are meant to be a part of this. He works through His church. He works through you.
Stay heart-connected to Him and to His Body and look for His marvelous work there.