Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What is it you want?

I am not alone.

Last night in Bible study the question was asked about when...if...to leave a church. The sweet lady who asked is not from my church, but a "sister church" here in our community. She asks at a time when my own church has lost yet another couple, and yet another beginning to visit other places of worship.

A few weeks ago a blog friend, dealing with these same issues not only in a different community, but an entirely different part of the country, sent out an email to some blog buddies, one being me, asking the question, what would be the ideal church for you? What are valid expectations for a church home? By her own description, her church teaches sound doctrine, yet there is something missing.

Hers is a question I have sensed the Holy Spirit asking me: What is it you want, Lisa? What is it you think you need? What are you looking for, exactly?

As I have attempted to clarify within myself the answer to these questions, I began with a list of expectations, things I deemed important, necessary even. But as I compiled my list of essentials, I realized they were really mainly externalities, a matter of preferences.

Sound doctrine is essential. If my church or your church begins to proclaim heresy and any gospel other than Jesus Christ, it is time to leave. Absolutely.

But beyond that, what?

What is it you want, Lisa?

People say "I want to be fed" or "I want to be uplifted and not drug down." Me too. But if I'm not careful, church becomes about me, me, me. My feelings. My needs.

Here's one thing I've learned through this journey: my faith is mine. My walk is mine. If I am dependent solely on my church or my pastor or my Sunday school teacher for my spiritual growth, I will never grow. Never. Sound Bible teaching is important. Enormously so. But if I am not pursuing the things of God on my own, if I do not know Him and His Word for myself, if all I have is secondhand information, if I have not forged my faith in the just-me-and-Jesus times, then I have no faith to stand on.

Church is important. Critical. Necessary. Hebrews 10:25 tells us to not give up meeting together. We are to meet together, worship together, study God's Word together, bearing each other's burdens and sharing each other's sorrows. God has ordained the corporate experience and I am a church girl through and through. We need the authority and accountability and support that church provides. Yes we do.

And I think at the heart of these questions lies our view of church and her purpose. Is it for me? About me? Or, not? If not, then what?

As I have sought God's will in this specific issue, I've decided yes, there are things I want to see happen in my church. Not merely preferences, but a great move of God. Truth proclaimed. Lives changed. A people hungering and thirsting for the Word. A commitment to authentic, specific, heartfelt prayer. Passionate worship. Bold vision. Reaching out beyond the church walls to those different from us, to those who do not know Jesus.

And don't forget the guitar, drums, Chris Tomlin's songs played loud and at a fast tempo, David Crowder too...oh, wait, that really is just preferences...

I want to see an outpouring of God's Holy Spirit among us and in us. I want to see His power and His glory more than mere words can describe to you.

But more than any of the above, I want this: I want to know I am where He wants me to be. Would I not gladly forgo all of the above if He asked? What if He said to me, "Lisa, you may never see all that you want to see Me do. Will you still be my woman here in this place?"

Will I?

Could I take the small measure of influence He has given me and use it for His glory and the furthering of His kingdom...even if He never comes through like I think He should?

Is it about me? Or Him? Is He to conform to my will and wishes...or me to His?

Matthew quotes Isaiah saying "a smoldering wick he will not snuff out." (Matt. 12:20; Is. 42:3) His fire smolders among us still. There is a remnant. We are His people and He will show Himself faithful.

He will show Himself faithful.

He will.

I do not know all the answers to my friends' situations. Nor to my own, for that matter. I do know this: my heart is to be obedient. I don't know what the cost may be. Will I be willing? Will I follow? No matter what He asks, will I say Yes? To quote myself from a previous post,
Whether it be like the fiery revival of Pentecost or like the long lonely years of Jeremiah, I just want to be faithful, fully obedient and fully surrendered. Wherever He leads, I want to go.
"The Lord is my portion," says my soul,
"Therefore I hope in Him!"
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
Lam. 3:24-25

We wait. We hope in Him.

He will be good to us.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for the post Lisa.

    Our church is also experiencing some of this. Since my husband is on staff there is not the option of going somewhere else. God has made it clear to stay. More and more families are leaving and it is disheartening to see our friends and our children's friends leave. To be frustrated with the lack of relationship in church. To see complacency.

    You are right in saying your relationship is your responsibility.

    Hold strong sister, it is all about Him, not about us.

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  2. May He abundantly bless you through the obedience you show Him, by your heart, with your actions and your words.

    He is able to revive even dry bones to praise His name! In you, He calls a daughter by name and bids you follow. I'm praying for you.

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  3. Sometimes it takes hard times to teach us what we need to learn.

    You've learned the right thing; the true thing. The church--wherever it meets--is His church. It's about the worship of God by His people, assembled together, weak and strong, mature and immature, growing and stagnating. One body, not yet perfected, but united in its union with Christ. Its worship is an offering. An assembly and an offering made righteous by Christ alone.

    If we look to church to meet our needs and our expectations we will always be disappointed. If we look to church as the gathering of His people together to offer praise and worship to the One who is Worthy, then not only will we find satisfaction, but we will honor Him. And we will learn to love each other as He loved us and gave Himself for us.

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