Now, I feel it's important to note that we're still not at the point of believing everything that we read in the Bible. Nor do I think we ever will be. And the next time gay marriage turns up on the ballot, so help me, I WILL vote the exact same way. And depending upon where we live, we might stick another sign up in our yard.
But it is my belief that even if my actions are wrong (which I fully believe they are NOT), God will love me, anyway.
Besides, I've found that writing down my notes from the service, really helps to make the point stick.
As I may have mentioned before, one of the things that I really appreciate about "our church" is that they will do series for a particular topic. Right now, the series is on "Dangerous Church: What Could and Should Be." The premise here, is that our church is DANGEROUS. What does that mean, you ask?
A Dangerous Church Believes:
1. Ordinary people want to find God.
2. God loves everyone and wants to be found.
The Council at Jerusalem: Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers, "Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved."
The passage goes on to say that Paul and Barnabas (not sure who he is, I'm still new to this) had a dispute with the concept that you had to be circumcised to become a Christian and went to Jerusalem to see what the apostles and elders would say about the question. When they arrived, they were welcomed and reported everything God had done, through them.
Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses." The apostles and elders met to consider this question. After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: "Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith." Acts 15:1-9
Great News! You can be a Christian!
(But, first there's going to be a little operation.)
THIS is an obstacle. You cannot get to God without going through this door.
(Ding Dong! Snip. Snip.)
I loved the analogy that our pastor gave of a ladder.
Imagine taking out the first five steps on a seven step ladder so that the only steps that remain are the two at the top. And let's just imagine that God is at the very top of the ladder. How are people on the ground - supposed to get to the top - if the first five steps are missing?
Who wants to stand on a step (or go to a church) with 5,000,000,000 other people?
Definitely not me.
(No seriously. I don't like crowds.)
3. A church's #1 purpose should be to remove obstacles that keep ordinary people from God.
A church should definitely not make it difficult for ordinary people to connect with God and form a relationship.
Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord that we are saved, just as they are."
It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.
The men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter. The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message.
(Especially the MEN who heard, you don't have to that little operation to join the club. Yippee! The skin stays! HALLELUJAH!)
4. Every follower of Jesus is on Assignment.
Why is it that I can talk about God all day, but I get so skittish about Jesus? Why does his name have such a fanatical stigma? It wasn't very long ago, one of my co-workers and I were talking about religion and when I asked if she was Christian, with a straight face she said, "No. I'm Catholic."
Did I miss something in Sunday School?
(Or maybe she did??)
Quick show of hands for anyone who has been to a church where the minister directs the congregation to turn to a passage in the Bible - and everyone, except you - seems to know exactly what to do?
Instead of feeling like you are connecting with God, you feel totally unworthy, like an outsider - looking in on people who are a deep and spiritually mature group and in order for you to belong, YOU HAVE A LOT OF CATCHING UP TO DO.
(You HEATHEN!! What are you doing here in the Holy House of God?!)
I'll raise my hand. BOTH hands in fact.
Much to his absolute HORROR, midway through the sermon, the minister had the guest book brought up to the pulpit and he read aloud our minister's name. He asked him to stand, tell the church what brought him there that that day, how long he had been a Christian, whether or not he tithed and his stance on sexual purity, and a host of other questions that made him feel like RUNNING out of the church as fast as he could.
While we're on the topic...
Although I'm a little embarrassed to admit this in front of my very large and very devout Catholic family, especially since I went to Catholic school for three years and was baptized Catholic and received my First Holy Communion, I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing whenever I go to a Mass and I can barely get by just watching the rest of the congregation.
You think I would have known better (having gone to Catholic school for three years and being baptized Catholic and receiving my First Holy Communion) but I didn't. So I did. Because the Spirit totally moved me. (In the complete wrong direction to the front of the line, apparently.)
By no means am I saying that the Catholic church is weird.
I just ... I just ... I just have no idea what I'm doing whenever I go.
Quick. Moving on.
Look! It's MIKE WAZOWSKI!!
So, where is there a culture that best fits you?
It's important to keep in mind that your assignment is not to try and change the church that you attend, but rather - find a church where you best FIT.
Definitely not me.
(It's important to point out here, that after one lap around the park, Carolyn decided that she needed her training wheels back ON.)
Does this sound like a commercial?
Well it kind of is.
HOWEVER, this church has been so amazing for us, our family, our marriage,
For us, that's very BIG news.
But much like my daughter, I'm not sure that I have the faith to just GO FOR IT, because I'm afraid I'll wobble and look silly and ultimately, crash HARD. And then, people who are so much more experienced than me, will feel compelled to tell me that I'm doing it ALL WRONG, instead of just giving me a high five and saying, "WAY TO GO!! STICK WITH IT!!"
See ... the fact is, I am getting closer and feeling a lot more comfortable.