Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The church aside from disability

Just in case bringing a kid with multiple physical, mental, and emotional handicaps to church wasn't enough, let's look at the idea of actually joining a church, not to mention the challenges of just getting to an event... and if it's even worth it?  It takes a great deal of planning simply to attend a Sunday morning service, let alone attending a mid-week event.  Enduring the looks when she yells out or claps at totally inappropriate times and constantly being on top of her to make sure she doesn't take out a small child... or adult for that matter. Walking alongside her with a smile because I love her desperately, while trying to welcome a visitor or exchange pleasantries, let alone have a meaningful conversation is at the least... frustrating.  Wanting that social gathering but feeling like we have a communicable disease...
Church is not an easy place for a family who has a child with special needs.  Yet, if I wish to endure this, there are more things to consider, most would apply even if we were "normal".

If the reason a lot of people are away from God is the church, then I can't help but wonder if the church has ceased to be what it was intended to be and may need to be put out of its misery?
  • Is the church simply made up of human beings, and any group of humans together for any period of time are guaranteed to use the self destruct button at some point? 
  • Is the church just one of the few organized groups that has sustained in group form for any period of time, so it's an easy target?
  • The seemingly plethora of really bad ones are the ones who make the news and even other churches are shaking their heads, while those who don't attend just nod and say, "Now that's why I don't go?"
  • Are many of the attenders there for a social club of some sorts where they come to identify with others or network rather than becoming a reflection of God, yet we group them together with those desiring to be followers of Christ?
Or... are there more legitimate substantiated reasons for this view...
  • Have most people who have identified with a church or "church people" been so wronged and hurt by those who carry such a different banner that they cannot marry a loving God and such awful people?
  • Do some attend a church but don't look any different than the guy next door yet act self righteous as if they were?
  • Do some attend but don't have any idea what that church stands for and identify with something they don't even believe in?
  • Do people see themselves so much as consumers that the church is a place where they can drop off their kids to be "religion-ized" instead of living what is being taught on a day-to-day basis?
  • Do some stop in each week (or holiday) to get rid of the guilt from not going to church because they were taught that good people go to church and thus are included as church goers?
  • Are some who attend there just so they can be blessed.  They bargain on God's "karma"... be good and do good so we deserve to be blessed yet live like they have a license to sin because they can just go back and be absolved?

or is it possible that...
  • We could see glimpses of the people we think Christians should be coming from the God reflecting lives of some of those who attend?
  • We could see those who hurt us as fallen human beings and sinners (like us) rather than a reflection of the entire bunch?
  • We could open up the book (Bible) the church ascribes to find out about what they believe rather than looking at the people failing miserably as they aim to follow it?
  • We rely on our own experiences rather than owning the stories of our friends and family?
  • we could delve deeper into the church than just the back pew before making judgments?
  • we could stop judging a whole group of people based on a smaller segment?
  • or could we do to Christians as we ask them to do to us... give them the freedom to have their beliefs without calling it hate or intolerance when they disagree amiably with us?
If you get the feeling in church that you don't belong there I guarantee that you're not alone.  I get the idea that Christians are supposed to be the loving ones (IE "They will know you as Christians by the way you love Jn 13:35"), but nowhere does it say that Christians stop sinning altogeher. We must remember that Christians and Religious leaders are the same.  We must not forget who crucified Jesus... the religious leaders!  The secular leaders of that time washed their hands of it because they "found no fault with this man (Jn 19:6)." There is often a gap between those who call themselves Christians and those who act like followers of Christ (as Andy Stanley refers to them).

So... Where does that leave us?  Can one be a Christian and intentionally not identify with other believers? Can we reflect a Triune God individually?  Can we reflect the love of God to one another without some sort of formal gathering and what about the verse, "Don't forsake the gathering of believers (Heb 10:25)"?  What does the Bible mean when it refers to the body of Christ working together?  How do we digest the hypocrisy and still walk comfortably among it?   Paul doesn't say to do what I say and not what I do, but rather follow me as I follow Christ, but who is worthy of being followed?  

then maybe...
  • when we see ourselves as hopeless sinners, we will give others room to be our equals... sinners.
  • when our hypocrisy sickens us to our core, we will extend grace more rapidly to other hypocrites.  
  • when we realize our poor attempts at goodness also fall way short, we will respect others as they attempt as well.  
  • when our lives are spinning out of control during a season and we struggle with each breath of air, we will not be surprised when others go through seasons of stumbling and falling short of their words and deeds.  
  • When I stand in desperate need of forgiveness I'll remember that place as it is sought of me in the future. 
  • I'll remember that trust and respect are earned just as much from me as they are given to me.  
  • I'll choose those I'm willing to follow more carefully and pray for them as they lead
  • and finally I'll force my heart to follow my head when the church doesn't feel like a place I want to be.

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