Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hiding Under Something

There is this extreme tension that I have come to feel and think is a common trend for anyone involved in what we refer to as “full time ministry” So that goes out to all you people who help set up the church building for service on Sunday, organize events, teach, preach, or act in any other capacity within the organization of the church. I remember I used to have fanatical thoughts about what working for a church would look like or in my case being a part of a group of people who helped start one would be like. Oh such great thoughts, I’d be so close to God, be reading my bible more than anyone else, be able to quote something for every occasion, be a straight holy roller! I think the entire time I thought those things romantic music was playing in the background and then all of the sudden the music fades away and I wake up a couple years into it all wondering where the roses and mushy thoughts went. They have not been replaced by bitterness in any means, but just disappeared for some reason. So then you begin to do all these things within and for the church, set up, tear down, calling new visitors, going to staff meetings, and generally helping set up anything that will help others experience God. Then you meet these great points of tension in this whole Christian thing where you stop and just throw your hands up and say, “is this it?” Not in any disrespectful way or anything, but you just feel like you are grinding it out for God, but for some reason because of all the things you are doing you are totally missing out on Him. Like church gatherings on Sunday mornings just aren’t a place you can sit back and worship any more because you are busy worrying about people meeting there cues, the speaker being on time, the service ending on time, if that or this was done right, and on and on these thoughts carry. So no longer are the things you help create something you can enjoy.
I will be the first to tell people that Sunday mornings are not my time of intimacy with God, most of the time I have to go home in the quiet and listen to a podcast from one of my favorite teachers, then study on my own, pray, and jack up some Hillsong United and just get lost in worship. I enjoy those moments, I wish they came more often than they do. I start thinking that I can only experience God within the context of something churchy. I get lost in this thought process that my access to God is limited to a service, worship time, small group, or youth group. Then when I’m not getting to enjoy these access points I feel like I am far from God, don’t you? There is this great book in the Bible called Romans. Paul is writing to a group of people to assure them that they are no longer bound to a God with limited access, the alter was broken, the holy of holies opened up for all to be in (those who trust in Christ). Often times we send new believers to one of the Gospels to understand Jesus and His ministry. I suggest letting them read Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus to learn about how God originally set it all up, the alter, rituals, rules, and access points to Israel, then let them read either Romans or Hebrews and realize that when Jesus came and died on that nasty cross, that all those temple worship things were broken and completed. No longer does God sit in one place at a temple for only a priest to access, He grants us immediate access to Him. Take a look at Romans Ch 5. We have all gained access through faith in Christ to direct access to God!
This is exciting! This is revolutionary and ground breaking. So as I go through this tension of wishing I could just go to church and relax and experience God, I often have to remind myself that I can experience Him in a powerful way just like the lay person who comes to church right in my living room or local coffee joint. So may you stop looking for God under rocks, under your bed, around the city, in books, or whatever else it is you think He is hiding in and realize that the Holy God of Heaven, Almighty creator of heaven and earth is all around you and you have complete access to Him through Christ Jesus.

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