Recently I came across this question someone had posted on Facebook:
"Do we (in the church) sometimes confuse relationship with the church and relationship with Christ?"
Good question, isn't it?!
Then I saw someone share this image in response to the question:
This really got me thinking, and it made me realize that I've been struggling with this for a while now. I realized that I found so much of my identity in my church back in Illinois as well as the people in it. All of our friends were from that church: mine, my husband's and our kids'. We saw those people at church related activities 3 times a week and saw some of them more often than that. Before we moved we were getting to know more fellow members and were trying to get more involved. We had a great relationship with our church. And I think I really did equate that with a relationship with God.
I do think a relationship with a church can be associated and somewhat telling of a relationship with God, but they are not equal nor interchangeable.
When we moved, I thought my life would make perfect sense again when we found a new church. I knew we probably wouldn't find something as special as what we had before, but I thought we'd find something that felt right.
Well, it didn't happen right away. And I'm not sure that it has, although we've been regularly attending a church for a handful of months now. I even call it "our church" when I talk about it, but I don't feel any deep ties to it yet.
However, I do like it. I want to be there Sunday mornings. My kids like it. And I have met a lot of wonderful people, many of whom I think will be lifelong friends. But the church doesn't offer many of the things we'd like - many of the things we had before.
Over the last few months I've found myself thinking we'll always go to church, but we'll never have a church. I've felt very discouraged and wondered if we'd ever find a place for our family - a place where we "belong".
Have you noticed yet how self-centered all of this sounds?
So again, "Do we (in the church) sometimes confuse relationship with the church and relationship with Christ?" My answer to the question is "yes!" Not everyone confuses them, but I have. I've got it backwards.
Since the church we're attending doesn't offer all the same things we used to have, I've been trying to make up for it on my own a little bit. I've started this blog, which requires me do some Bible study and some soul searching. I've been following online Bible studies. I've read a couple Christian books that were really great. (Ask me if you want to know which ones!) And I've actually learned a lot!
But I've been holding back. I've been waiting to find the "right" church before I felt like everything was right with me and God. Like my faith depended on finding the right church. And that's just not true.
Jesus is the truth. And he is the way and the life. There is no other way to God and eternal life than through Jesus (John 14:6), no matter where I go to church.
I will continue to make ties in church. I will continue to be involved. I will continue to worship with fellow believers. And someday I hope to find a church to place our membership in again. Maybe it'll be the church we're attending now. I don't know. But these things are important to me and I believe these are things I should do.
But now I understand that none of this necessarily means I have a good relationship with God. It may be a good indicator, but it means absolutely nothing if I'm not right with God first.
Matthew 7: 21-23 says, "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'"
Does this scare you? I does me! I don't want to be a false disciple like in this passage. And I definitely don't want to be turned away by Jesus.
So how do we ensure our priorities are right? The answer's simple: Love God. Study His word. Share His word. Pray continually. Live for Him. Love others.
Then everything you do will be the Lord's will! And you won't just go to church; you'll truly be His church!