For the past two weeks, my family has attended church services for the first time in 8 years. My two young boys have not even known what a church service looked like as they had never really been other than a time or two on Father's day to see their grandfather who is a preacher. For 31 years I was born, raised, and lived in church. I was the guy there every time the doors opened, until God literally yanked me out for his purposes. So the past two weeks have been interesting to say the least.
This morning, I was asked the question I really did not care to answer, "So what have you thought about the church?" The reason I did not want to hear that question is because I cannot say I have enjoyed it or even liked it. Yet I sense a need to be there for some reason and at this point she is 12 (aka, my daughter.) But truth be told, I just have a deep issue with "church" as we know it.
Is it the songs? No! I love worship songs and fully enjoy them in my car, at home, or just in my head as I sing and worship God. Is it the preaching? No! The sermons have been biblical (something hard to find today) and not a shallow interpretation of them. In fact, they have put the true believer on the spot for sin in their lives, including mine. It is not those things at all.
Truth is, "church" (organized gatherings of believers in America) have left a bitter taste in my mouth. Why? Because I have seen the organization chew people up and spit them out. I have seen countless arguments over non essential things tear brothers and sisters apart when Christ says it is through our love and unity that the world would know we love him. I have seen legalistic churches breed holier than thou attitudes. I have seen shallow churches breed nothing but babes who think they know Jesus, but only want the comfort he offered while forgetting the cross. I have seen more destruction come from "church" than I have seen glorifying of God's name.
People often ask "Why would I want Jesus" in America because they see the church and it is little different than what the world is like. We divorce at a higher rate than the world. Our teens fornicate no different than the world. Our pastors watch porn as much as the world. We are drunk, on drugs, and live no different than the world. We pat sinners on the back and tell them they just committed an indiscretion or that they are sick, instead of confronting them with their sin. We do not hold each other to Christ standard because in truth, we do not want to be held to it ourselves. We have allowed our walls to be broken down and our gates to be burned so our enemy is now infiltrated our body and is destroying us from the inside out.
But that is my fault! I am the one to blame! You see, God called me to preach to his body when I was 14. He gave me a very specific message (Isaiah 6). but I like Jonah did all I could to run from it. Calling people to righteousness, I learned at a very early age, is very unpopular. People do not want to hear they need to die to themselves and pick up a cross daily, they prefer hearing about how awesome Heaven is going to be with its streets of gold. We do not want to hear how following Jesus means we will suffer persecution for his name sake, they want to hear how his love will cover all their sins (so it is okay to keep sinning and still call yourself a Christian.) We do not want to hear how Jesus demands all our money, our possessions, and lives (sell all you have and give to the poor), they want to hear how if we give the minimum of 10% God will reach out and send showers of blessings upon you. And because I bear the sin of loving to be liked, I have avoided speaking the truth. I have avoided my calling. I have abandoned my post and I have allowed the enemy to creep in.
Dear Church (the Body of Christ, not the meetings on Sunday) I have failed you. I have abandoned you because I was afraid of how you would respond. I have forsaken following Jesus because I did not like the cost once I had counted it. I masked it well, not just for 7 years, but since I was a child, by living a "Christian Life" and doing just a little more than my fellow man. I lived to honor Him, and when I failed I confessed. I prided myself in my ability to hear His voice and follow Him! But I was living out the life I wanted to live, not what He had asked me to do. I wanted the American Dream no different than any other American. I wanted my family to be proud of me through my accomplishments. I allowed the lies of Satan that my sins of fornication prior to marriage was a valid reason to not speak out, because I would just be a hypocrite. Simply put, I have sinned the greatest sin, disobeying my Father.
Brothers and Sisters, I apologize for leaving my post on the broken down wall. I am sorry I have allowed our gates to burn and the enemy to creep in. God has shown me the result of my silence, and I weep for what has become of my family! I ask you to forgive me for allowing my sin to let Satan in our house. Because I was afraid to speak for fear of the reaction (Read Isaiah 6 sometime and you will know what I am talking about), I chose to shut my mouth and let you live as you pleased.
Today, I can no longer bear to continue down this path. As Jeremiah said, it is as a fire in my bones. God loves His people and longs for us to abandon our selfish, prideful, American Dream lives, and long desperately for Him and allow his light to shine through our broken lives! He longs for it so much that He is willing to forgive us our sins if we confess and repent. He is also willing to CRUSH us if we fail to confess and repent because he loves us enough to do whatever it takes to have that intimate relationship with us.
Pray for me, that from this day forth, I will stand guard at my post. That I will not abandoned you anymore. That I would desire Christ and his cross more than I desire to be liked. Most of all , join me in praying that God would hear our prayers, that we would confess our sins, turn from our wicked ways, and seek His face, so that He might hear from Heaven and heal our broken body, the Body of Christ!