“Leave the church and get closer to God.”
“Jesus, Yes, the church, No.”
I can understand where those who make such declarations are coming from. Or at least, I grasp what would evoke such statements.
Most often they originate from a moment of frustration. At times, after years of effort. These words are spoken out of angst and anguish. Out of the burden and desire to unreservedly worship and praise and serve a perfect God in our complete and total imperfection. These feelings and emotions are generated out of a belief that we make faith much more complicated than it was ever intended to be.
However, when we look intently to the paradigm of the Kingdom, we become actually aware that we need one another. We cannot be all that God intends for us to be without Kingdom relationships. Without Christian community. We are greatly impeded in our ability to live up to our potential as believers without journeying through life together. Without loving one another. Encouraging one another. Challenging one another. We cripple the communal design of the Gospel and Kingdom when we do not develop intentional Christ-following, Kingdom-centered relationships. Much of our journey of faith is based upon our own individual relationship with God. Our own willful choosing to be His people every moment. However, without Christian community we hobble our spiritual development and Kingdom impact.
What is needed is grace. Not only God’s grace to us, but His grace from us. God’s grace in us, freely given to others. Openly extended to others. We have to make room. To allow room. Each of us do. To make room in our hearts for others. The problem is that we are seldom aware of our own Pharisaical tendencies. Relationships are not always easy. But they are always healthy when they are focused upon Christ. And when focused upon the greater purpose of the Kingdom.
May we glorify God in our attitudes!
~~ Jason Reeves, West Erwin church of Christ, Tyler, Texas