Skipping Church Led to Some Stumbles
I envied my friends whose parents didn’t force them to go to church. So, when I was old enough, when my parents stopped attending, I stopped going to church. Enjoying the luxury of unhurried Sunday mornings, I felt liberation from a tiresome obligation, as I willingly walked into a jail cell of my own imagination.
Recently, Pastor Tim Keller described the painful process of walking away from God:
Life without God is said to be sophisticated, original, freeing — it’s actually thoughtless, imitative, bondage. (1 Peter 1:13-21)
I thought I was on a sensible, comfortable route to getting all I wanted, having just added another day to get my way. Years later, staring at my reflection in the mirror, I saw, reflected back, I had a whole lot of what I didn’t expect – or want.
But, I did not go back to church.
I did, however, think about God. Or, He telegraphed some thoughts from which I could not walk away. People, their kindnesses; coincidences; setbacks, and fear kept me listening, if not understanding, a guidance apart from my impulse to do what felt good, and solved the immediate problems.
When I finally took myself back to the church of my childhood, I found words in its liturgy that made some sense of the chaos I was creating:
. . . We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us . . .
Well, I didn’t think I had no health in me . . . that took a few more years of dead-end willfulness and study of Scripture to see how right Thomas Crammer was.
Had I stayed in the church, could I have avoided all the foolish pursuits I chased after?
Maybe, though, I would have become the Pharisee who wouldn’t see Christ through the bars on the self-righteous cell of my own making.
The Church has its problems, but the older I get, the more comfort I find there. ~Bono
The mystery is that God is in the church, and yet apart from her. He’s able to go after the wanderers, and stay at the task of sweeping out the debris to find what is lost. And He’s never ashamed of the returning wrecks who have squandered their inheritance. ( Luke 15)
If you find the perfect church – don’t join it; you’ll ruin it. ~ Pastor Glenn Parkinson