We live in a strange world.
As unique individuals, existential thinking sounds reasonable at face value, but the reality is that we are left with no real notice as to whether we ever arrive at "our best"...only that we get to determine what that is and that the finish line is being ever-moved. If you need an example, contemplate that even the most idolized and beautiful in our nation are airbrushed on the covers of our magazines. Talk about impossible standards!
If you're anything like me, you may have the type of personality that likes to push...more efficiently at home or work, harder or different at the gym, to do more in the community...etc. What does that even mean? I tend to call myself out, but is it for things that last? When are my efforts, our efforts, enough?
Rather than multiple truths, the Bible suggests that there is one foundation of truth...that there is a reality that is concrete, and that it's determined by God, not us. This is where folks tend to get all hot and bothered. "Don't mess with my reality, because then I might not be right!". I'll be the first to admit that I sure do love being right! Though embarrassing to share, it helps me to feel like I'm in control. Is anybody following?
Where does this leave the church? That word can seem so outdated. Church. The initial image that runs through my mind is the tall brick building with stained glass windows and the bell hung high up in the tower, just like the one I grew up in. It's interesting to me, since the original Greek word for church, ekklésia or ecclesia, doesn't even refer to a dwelling.
Ekklésia (ek-klay-see'-ah), actually means, "the called out ones", as in, the people who are called out of the world's mess and into God's circle. That casts an entirely different light on the stuffy, outdated church that some of us may have known in the past.
Now if we're in God's circle, then we're told we're also supposed to be:
- relevant (John 17:16)
- loving and selfless ( Mark 12:31)
- fresh and renewed (Romans 12:2)
- tough, persevering (James 1:12)
- creative (Exodus 35:31)
- inspiring and connected to others (1 Cor. 9:19)
The Message Bible says this in Hebrews 12:
So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?
My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects. God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out.
He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live?
I'm thinking that being "called out" may not be such a bad thing. How about you? I dare you. If you're not currently part of a church, check one out! Proverbs reminds us that, "As iron sharpens iron, so one friend sharpens another".
Are you ready for a challenge of love? Are you ready to be called out? He loves you. I promise, you're in good hands.
1. How is your experience of "church" growing up influencing your spiritual decisions today?
2. What would be your ideal "called out", "church" environment? How would it help you to learn more about faith?
3. What are some things that might need to change about your current relationships in the church? What are the things that are going really well? Thank God!
4. Who could you ask for direction and advice?