i have a hard time going to church these days, and i'm going to tell you why.
1) 'picture' perfect lights.
we tend to spend more money on bright lights [and skinny jeans], and more time instagramming [very intimate] moments of others worshipping or praying with one another instead of 'entering in' [how's that for church lingo?].
2) and more importantly, it has become too 'me' focussed, and as a result, has started to produce quite the selfish culture.
sadly, i find church culture to be all about the consumer these days [what we did or didn't like about the service, how much it fed our feelings and emotions, how good it made us feel etc], and less about Christ and the people around us [inside and outside of the church].
"i didn't like the songs we sang today".
"i didn't get anything out of it"
"i didn't like how ..."
and the list goes on.
and i find the messages reflect this, too.
i wont list the sermons i have been listening to lately, because my point here isn't to bash specific churches [or pastors], but to shed light on a few things that i believe need to be addressed. [surely i can't be the only one thinking this].
almost every sermon i have heard lately has to do with ... me and my comfort level. [see a pattern here?]
"you are loved" [which is true].
"you are victorious" [also true].
"your past is your past, who cares about the choices you've made, keep moving forward" etc. [also true to an extent].
"God will bring you through" [you guessed it - true]
and the list goes on.
but here's the thing.
following [and imitating] jesus requires us to 'take up our cross' [more church lingo], and faith and love require action.
being a christian [which essentially means christ follower] should be uncomfortable.
uncomfortable in the sense that we are constantly reflecting on the crap in our lives, and adjusting accordingly. it's easy [and comfortable] to acknowledge God as our strength, comfort, healer, hope, and whatever other attributes benefit us, but not so comfortable to acknowledge him as our potter, and allow him to mould us, and change us into his image.
uncomfortable in the sense that we are putting others before ourselves [without compromising self-care or boundaries], like philippians 2:3-4 refers to ever so bluntly.
and uncomfortable in the sense that love requires action and sacrifice, which jesus so happened to model perfectly when he humbled himself and hung on the cross.
going through what i'm going through now with my mom has sent me into a deep time of reflection, and with that comes me reflecting on my faith and church, which in turn has me meditating on certain scriptures, such as the one below:
"what good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? can such faith save them? suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. if one of you says to them, “go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? in the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead" [james 2:14-17]
when all is said and done, there is a time to pray for someone and 'wish them well', and a time to show up and put your faith and love into action.
disclaimer: i don't sit here and write this from a pedestal; i'm the first to admit that i, too, can choose comfort over discomfort and act selfishly at times [in fact, i can actually recount a few specific times where i acted in a selfish manner this week alone]; my point is this: that we [and that includes me] as believers can do better. i may not like where the church is heading, but i believe in it with all of my heart.