Thursday, March 13, 2014

Do You "Do Church?"

"Christ did not die on the cross so we can do church."  

I wish I was smart enough to have come up with this quote, but I didn't.  That brilliance goes to Bethel Redding's lead pastor, Bill Johnson.  

I encourage you to read the quote again, this time perhaps taking it a bit slower... allowing it time for more marinating.  I believe the words are powerful enough to change (or at least enhance) why you go to church.  I also encourage those in church leadership to say these words to themselves often; as well as over their flock.  It is always good to 'right the ship' and to steer from a direction not to be taken.  

From my experience, Johnson's quote speaks to a lie that many churches have bought into today.  Yes, a lie.  And don't worry, I use this critical statement with hesitation.  Why?  Because Jesus Christ is still the head of His church.  We must always be cautious when speaking about the Bride because of her one true Bridegroom.  And while Christ is no doubt without blemish, we as His followers do seem to be struggling to hear the voice of the Shepherd for how and why we 'do church.'  

Perhaps you should read the quote just one more time... "Christ did not die on the cross so we can do church."  By this third time, I suspect you have percolated a few reasons of your own for why you actually do go to church.  Perhaps these are a few:
  • The worship.  I love the worship at our church.  Our worship leaders are great and they play today's best worship songs.  It is like a concert at my church.
  • The programs.  My kid needs a youth group.  We would be lost without our support group.  My spouse and I need our small groups.  We just love our weekly bible study meetings.  
  • The preaching.  I just love our pastor's weekly message.  His teaching is so relevant to my life today.  His messages are the best that I have ever heard.  My pastor is amazing.
  • The people.  I love the sense of community at our church.  I just need to be around the Christ-loving people of my church.  I can sharpen them and they can sharpen me.

If this sounds like you (as it did me for many years), watch out and remember Christ did not die for us to just "do church."  While all of the above examples can be used for the good of His Kingdom, we must be careful not to let the product of the Church replace the purpose of the Church.  We must remember that we were created to glorify the Creator in and above all things (Isaiah 43:7; Matthew 5:15; 22:37-39; Romans; 11:36; Ephesians 4:10; Revelation 4:11;...).  

Be wary, brothers and sisters, if the pastor's message becomes more sought after than hearing the voice of the one true Author.  Be vigilant not to let a church program trump God's Presence.  And remember church, the worship is not for your enjoyment, it exists for His.  I suggest for you to stand alert to why you go to church... as you may just be making an idol out of what was always intended to be a relationship.  

Let's look at this often so subtle lie in a different way.  If you were to leave (or lose) your church, what is the one thing you would miss the most?  The people?  The message?   How about the programs?  Be real to yourself.  What would be the one thing you would miss the most?  If your answer does not involve "because God is moving there," then why go?  Why yolk ourselves to where He is not moving?

We as the Church have been given the Holy Spirit because we are called to host His Presence in all the things we do.  Yes everything.  The very intent of our own creation was for us to be with God at all times; together in relationship.  Being in His Presence has always been God's prime directive for us.  Even when sin was welcomed in by Adam and Eve and they were scared and sought refuge from His expected anger, our omnipotent God instead was without our relationship and asked in love, "Where are you?" (Genesis 3:9).  

We have a jealous God and He seeks our attention.  Being glorified by us is all that He wants.  Jesus died for this.  Christ even previewed how His crucifixion was for "our advantage" (John 16:7) in order for His Holy Spirit to be with us always.  Why was this needed?  Of course, in order for us to be in constant relationship with the Father.  Let us, the church, seek to be the attached branch we were designed to be (John 15:5).

If you are not hearing from God where you attend church, make sure to take notice.  If the Holy Spirit is asked to take a backseat at your church in order to provide a more timely structure for her programs, check to see if your church is attached to the vine.  Don't compromise on this.  Compromise can be the doorman to deception.  Having the Bride join together as a once a week item on a 'to do checklist' was never the plan; nor is the goal to 'keep the sheep busy with a church event planned for every night of the week.'   That is not the purpose of the Church.

Don't settle with your church.  Christ didn't die for that.  It is time for the pendulum of the church to swing back to where it was designed to be, which is to be in constant relationship with the Father through the gift of His Son provided by the Holy Spirit (John 15:5).  It is not about us.  It is about being with Him.

Press in and press on.  There is more.  Go get it!

To learn more about how to seek God's Presence; or Pastor Bill Johnson, I recommend the following:

Strengthen Yourself in The Lord.  Author Bill Johnson (Destiny Image Publishers, 2007)
Hosting the Presence.  Author Bill Johnson (Destiny Image Publishers, 2012)