As always, if you find typos or grammar problems, be kind! I like to write, but my fingers don't always pick up what my brain is laying down!
I'm going to try to keep this short and sweet. I would like to revisit it and go into greater detail in the future, but for now I'm going to try to keep it simple.
A few days ago, I was spending some time reading ahead in preparation for my family's weekly devotional/hanging out/eating food/praying…and other stuff "time". We've been in the book of Mark for several months and it has been a great "time" for us. As I was reading chapter 9, verses 39 and 40 did that "jump out at you" thing. If you're one of God's kids, you know what I'm talking about. The basic story here finds the disciples specifically John tattling on some unknown fellow who was using Jesus' name to cast out demons. The kicker is this: According to John, this guy was not part of "their" group….and he didn't like that. But Jesus, in true Jesus fashion, shakes things up for these dear guys and for us. He replies, "Don't stop him….anyone who is not against us, is for us".
Before I discuss what the Lord showed me here, I would like to say that if the guy's actually able to cast out demons, I'm figuring he's most likely legit.
Anyway, what God showed me here was powerful and humbling; especially considering my stance on the particular subject to which I felt the spirit was applying these scriptures. When I left "church", I was hurt, very hurt. I had pretty much decided that everything about "church" was evil and most believers were blind to that fact or just didn't care…which made me even angrier. "Church" was broken, and I wanted to see change, big change. So, I took it upon myself to explain to the world why this thing we call "church", was really nothing more than a shallow, twisted remnant of what God had once called "His body". The "church" no longer smelled or looked anything like Jesus and had little to offer a lost and dying world. It was all about committees, hoop jumping, and control. I was indignant. I was frustrated…..
And I was wrong. Of course, I didn't really see that at the time.
Yes, there are problems and abuse galore that goes on in churches everywhere. Some are worse than others, but all are broken in some way. Why? Well, get a group of people together, large or small, and there's bound to be trouble. Again, why? Because we all have some brokenness within our lives, which means whatever we're a part of is going to be flawed. Still, Jesus said that even a cup of water given in His name counts. So, if even the smallest acts of love and kindness count, who am I to throw stones at anyone who is at least trying to serve God? Answer: I have no right.
If God loves His children and holds their smallest acts of service in His name dear, even if it's inundated with messed up junk, how can I say it has no worth. Again, I have no right and there is no justification for it. God loved me when I was at my worst, how can I refuse love or discount the efforts of anyone due to differing opinions?
At the end of the day, anyone, regardless of how they worship, where they worship, or with whom they choose to worship, anyone that is not against us...is for us. If you name Jesus as your Savior, you and I are family in the deepest sense. When I think of Jesus' command to "love one another", I am reminded that there are no prerequisites to that command. It is simple, and quite clear. Love each other…that's it. That means I cannot judge you, nor can you me. I don't think we have to agree on everything for I know we never will, but we must love each other.
Friends it has been over three years since my family and I left "church". We have endured, but I can assure you there have been many rough times for us. When you attend a church, it is honestly fairly easy. You basically know how things work and what to do. Once you leave those four walls, things can get really confusing. No one is there to say, "Here's how this works" and at times, there seems to be far more questions than there could ever be answers to. Still, God is faithful and we remain in His hands.
As I write this, there is a deep longing within me to repent before the Lord. I cannot tell you how long it has been since I really felt in step with Him. It's not that I didn't want to be, but it's easy to get lost. I deeply want to love and serve Him however He chooses, but it is as I said "confusing". My heart has really been challenged lately and I feel a longing for Jesus like I haven't felt in a long time.
Also, we need people in our lives and that's something we (Terri and I) agree on. How that happens or what it is supposed to look like is beyond me. I don't think we are being led to any church, but we know we must be more intentional about developing and maintaining relationships. Honestly, I don't know what to do but to just seek my Father's face and pray He lead this family.
In closing, please know that I still have a lot more questions than answers, but I do know one thing, I am called to love. Past that…who knows?
If you are reading this, PLEASE, PLEASE pray for us and know that you are loved and appreciated regardless of where you are.