RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE OR LIFE APPLICATION?

2013 09 27 iphone 043It is, at least in my opinion, tragic that so many people do not understand the value of congregational fellowship. There are way too many individuals who look at church as a “thing to do” a couple of times a week, rather than times to look forward to and cherish. Where else can we spend an hour or two with like-minded individuals, praising the Creator and our Savior, while encouraging each other? The problem — compartmentalizing the religious experience!!!

There is a disconnect between personal life and Bible class, Bible class and praising, praising and sermons and sermons and communion and communion and everyday life. Each is seen and treated like a separate experience instead of being what it is supposed to be, a combined experience that enriches. We may come to worship after Bible class because we do not see the inherent value of learning about God’s Word in a classroom of our peers. We just ”go to church”! We may treat a Sunday as if it is just about communion and not everything else. Of course, there is no denying the importance of communion but when we place the entire Sunday experience into that one event, we think it is OK to leave directly after. This causes us to miss the opportunity to be encouraged by further praise and great sermons. I also know of individuals who see praise and worship as being more important than the sermon, singing heartily with the song leader and then nodding off for the sermon. Of course, it is not our fault that the sermon was “boring” (as if God’s Word can ever be boring!), or that the message was not intended for us on that day. We even sit in the auditorium and insult some of our fellow congregants as we lean over to our loved ones or friends and “discuss” things unrelated to the sermon. We also behave one way in church and a completely different way when we are at home. That is what I mean by compartmentalizing the religious experience. When we compartmentalize religion we lose the benefits of the combined experience and, psychologically speaking, create a dichotomy (separation) between our personal lives and our religious experience. What we need to do is see the value of experiencing our Christian life as a series of events that, although different in inherent value, are all equally important to our spiritual encouragement and maturation.

How do we do that? By praying for a change in attitude and allowing ourselves the benefit of enjoying every aspect of our Christian life and worship as a combination of many different events of equal spiritual importance. Cleve Stafford, Whiterock church of Christ, Dallas, TX (adapted)

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