This morning as I think about going to church (you see, I don’t have to) I begin to think about “organized religion”. The words themselves have become associated with a negative connotation, which to me is sad. Now days you hear so often, “I am spiritual, but not religious”. Many distance themselves from the word “religion” or “church”, in fact, many belittle both.
I am a believer in Jesus Christ. I believe that the Father (God), the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit are one. I believe that God sent Jesus to this earth to show and teach us His love. Unconditional, forgiving love. Not love on the condition that I live by rules and regulations, love that is so all-consuming that I feel it, experience it, share it with everyone. I also believe that I am a sinner. Meaning from the moment I was born, I am not pure. I, alone, cannot live that unconditional love. I am selfish. Do I, 100% of the time, live loving others unconditionally? No, self gets in the way. I believe there was only one person on this earth that lived 100% unconditionally, and that was Jesus. And I need Jesus. I need His saving grace, to be forgiven, to be cleansed, to join Him in heaven one day. I believe there is a heaven, and there is a hell, and the only way to heaven is through my savior, Jesus. Therefore, I am a Christian. A follower of Christ Jesus.
Do I feel the need to push my beliefs on you? No. But share them, yes. Because in the Mark 16:15 Jesus commanded that we “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
I am also a member of an organized religion. Why? Because there I can join with other followers of Jesus. I join them in praising Him, praying to Him, seeking Him and serving Him. Many can come together and do what one can not do.
Church is like “home” to me. It’s a secure place, where others love me, even with my faults and even when I stumble. It’s a place where people encourage me, support me, hold me up when I am broken, cheer me when I’ve accomplished great things. Is church full of perfect people? No. Do they expect me to be perfect? No. Is church a place where at times someone holds me accountable for my actions, sometimes tell me things I don’t like to hear? Yes. And I would expect no less. (just like in my family) Do they love me less when I make bad choices? No. Yes, church is like home to me. A place where I belong, a place that I feel secure, a place that I am myself and loved.
Have I been disappointed by someone at church? Yes. Have I been hurt by someone at church? Yes. Have I been misjudged by someone at church? Yes. But none of these things make me want to be any less a part of the church. Because you see, church is full of broken people, just like me, who need Jesus. They all are imperfect, just like me.
I often tell others that church is the icing on the cake. My relationship with Jesus is the cake, but being a member of an organized religion…well, it’s the icing on the cake. The praise, the prayer, the seeking, the service are even better when shared with other believers.