Church vs. JesusEssays, Meditations — By Janet Morris Grimes on May 27, 2012 at 8:10 am
Church. As much a part of my life as brushing my teeth. There are few Sundays that I don’t recall being there. Walking in late, perhaps, but fulfilling my spot on the second row, with pride.
Three years ago, a move to a state 10 hours away forced me to find a new church. But soon, I settled in to the front row, ready to worship on a weekly basis.
Attending church is viewed in many different ways. Many attend for the social interaction, for the family atmosphere, for the children or youth programs, the worship experience, and the motivational speaking.
I treasure each of those things.
But it’s the magnetic pull of a face-to-face encounter with Jesus that entices me to attend. I need to kneel at the cross, as if Jesus and I were the only two people in the room. I need to be held accountable for my actions, to let go of my doubts, to deepen my relationship. I need to be whacked upside the head with a different viewpoint, to change my way of thinking and in the process, continue to change my life.
I need for my life to look much different, because it is centered on Jesus, than it would on its own.
That is why I attend church.
Sometimes, I fear that church, as an institution, becomes more focused on itself than on Jesus. With small groups, committees, events, programs, budgets, worship preferences, elder appointments, class schedules, pot luck luncheons, food drives, and membership directories, it can be difficult to walk in the door and find Jesus.
And I should be good at this worship thing, by now. Imagine what it might feel like to a newcomer, a visitor, the one who is seeking God for the first time.
It should always be about Jesus. Without His presence, the church can become, basically, a club for really nice people.
I know enough now to seek Jesus on a daily basis; that I cannot depend on the church to do that for me. It is a personal relationship, seven days a week.
But never let it be said that the church gets in the way of finding Jesus.
I don’t want to argue worship preferences. I want to find Jesus. I don’t want to lament the change to a new service time. I want to find Jesus. I don’t want to criticize the pastor, I want to find Jesus.
It is only once we kneel together, as one, at the foot of the cross, that we find Jesus. Only then can we go into the world and be the ‘church’ to them.
Church is a group of people learning to be more like Jesus. Not a building. Not an institution. Not a social activity. Not a ritual that we choose because our grandmothers did it for 90 years before us. Not a club for really nice people.
Never let it be said that any church gets in the way of finding Jesus. Because when this happens, it is time to find a new church.