Sunday, June 26, 2011

I'm not right, you're not right, they're not right.

I’m beginning to realize that I’m not right very often. While this is humbling, it’s probably a good place to be in, especially when delving into the heart of God, His people, and the Church. I have opinions (ok, very strong opinions sometimes) and convictions, but winning arguments and “being right” has begun to have less and less appeal. Granted, there are some people who are very adept in helping me rise to the occasion and argue to be right… but I’m growing into the shoes that walk away and let the unimportant things go.

All of this said, rather than building a case for what I believe about the way people function in God’s world and His church, I’ve been observing it. For the last year, I’ve been observing—attending a different church almost every Sunday for the last six months (not to say I’ve been to 24 different churches…but that going to the same church two weeks in a row has not been the norm). Some of this has been influenced by travel, which always offers a rich opportunity to see how others worship in different states, cities, or countries. An early thesis for this writing today is: We’re not right. You’re not right. They’re not right. In fact, being right is not the point.

(an important note: I’m speaking of churches, styles of worship and denominations, not faiths of the world, in this writing entry).

Another reason for, what the naysayers would call “church hopping,” comes from trying to find a church for two people, in a committed relationship, that come from very different faith backgrounds. In the process, you come to the conclusion that you’d already reached, but have now proved: there is no perfect church. There is a perfect God and maybe even a great niche for you in a church, but not a perfect church. If it were perfect, there would be no need for it.

A frequent argument against the Christian church in America (I’m not creating a new denomination, just speaking of people who believe in Christianity), is that it is full of hypocrites. I agree. True believers in Jesus, who become true worshippers of Him (not perfect believers or perfect worshippers, but heart-committed ones), fail—they lie, envy, hurt others, say terrible things, and are dishonest, inconsistent, and discontent. (Those were just a few of the things that I could think of off the top of my head about myself).

The difference between these believers and the rest of the world is that they acknowledge how awful they are and how short they fall of being like the One who has given them life, and rescued them from sure, well-deserved eternal death. They see their sin (I hesitate to use those words that sound so Christian-y, but some of them are hard to substitute and God Himself calls it that)…and they hate their sin and they ask for forgiveness from their sin and they turn away from their sin (they repent)…often they fall back into the same sin and God gives them the grace to repeat this holy cycle, until they become more and more like He is (He calls it “being transformed from glory unto glory” in 2 Corinthians). What a privilege to be changed from glory unto glory, in the midst of the seemingly irreversible mess I’ve made of my life!

So am I a hypocrite? Yes. Are other Christians hypocrites? Yes! They simply, yet deeply, recognize their need for someone to rescue them out of their self-made pit AND they accept the Rescue and the Rescuer. Then they allow the Rescuer into their hearts and into a relationship with them—a very soulful, penetrating, all-consuming love relationship—the relationship that we’ve all been waiting for…the “One,” the Ultimate One.

To you intellectual, theological types (having been all different types myself), it may seem like too simple of an explanation. I could complicate it with issues and discussions and arguments of election, reform theology, infant baptism, or predestination… I find all of these things very interesting and very important to think through, hash out, discuss… and ultimately conclude that we’ll spend a lifetime trying to figure them out. I find these discussions helpful, as long as they call us to a greater examination of God, who He is, and what He says and NOT a greater examination of ourselves and our ability to reason. It should be so rich and deeply humbling to delve into these and other issues, as we realize the magnitude of our God and all He has done, His intricacies and innumerable facets. Just because we’ll never fully grasp all of these things on this side of heaven, does not excuse us from trying! It should be our life’s ambition to soak up the wonder of creation, fill up on the Bread of Life, and let our cups overflow to water and nourish life around us. We should also “be ready to give a reason for the hope that we have, but do this with gentleness and respect.” -1 Peter 3:15

And I have gotten off track and yet am still on track…but that was a mouthful and a read-ful…so stay tuned for the rest of the skinny on “being right is not the point."