I love my job at the museum. I thoroughly enjoy having a purpose, a job description, tasks, artists and students to build relationships with, projects to take on, and things to make my own. It's amazing how much of a difference it makes when you do something you know and enjoy. I wake up and am excited by my to-do lists and upcoming events. I feel blessed.
I'm slowly finding community here as well. Did I mention the process is particularly slow? Yes, it is moving at snail speed. Its a struggle and unfortunately its not happening at the mega-church I had hoped to call my home. It's not to say that this could change, I have connected with a couple of very wonderful women; overall it is not a place I feel safe or comfortable. I have been raking my mind trying to pinpoint what it is-if it is any one particular thing. My conclusion: the community is severely lacking in comparison to other church experiences. The church is great. The preaching is challenging. I don't have anything theologically to disagree with. So why not just grin and bear it, wait it out, and make it home? I ask myself that too... Which made me ask myself, why do I go to church? Aside from being fed spiritually and having the opportunity to connect with God in a communal setting, why do I go to church? What makes a church home?
I don't think there is a formula for the perfect church. Part of me grieves over the way Western culture has created a church that strives to fits our needs rather than the church being an actual foundation of the physical community that people live in. We "church shop" to find a place that has what we are looking for. Theology. Music. People. Outreach. A vision. Biblical teaching. The list goes on and on. We all are guilty of it. There are so many churches now, it almost seems necessary. But to begin answering my question, my main and obvious criteria is to be in a church that preaches Biblically and has sound theology. The bible holds Truth and the instructions we need for life to be full. I need it to be the foundation of the teaching. So then what?
This is the kicker. Do I feel welcomed? What is the community like? What kind of lifestyle do the leaders lead? Where is the focus of the congregation? Does the congregation live the vision of the church? Is there a genuine quality to the people? Words like real. raw. honest. genuine. flawed. embracing.welcoming. loving. uplifting. family. are the kinds of words I want to think when I'm describing the community at my church. I want to see hurting people embraced. Struggling people lifted up. Spiritual people challenged. Troubled people forgiven. The body reaching outside the walls of the church. And most of all, I want to connect with people on a brotherly level so we can do life together and carry each others burdens (and so fulfill the law).
Gal. 6:2 "Carry one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."
Hebrews 10:24-25 "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." (One of my favorites)
1 Thess. 5:14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
Matt 22:37-40 "And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.'"
I don't want to spend time with my fellow brothers and sisters only inside the church walls and within church functions and within our comfort and safety of each other. I want to do life with them. Step out into the world with them. I want to invest in them. I want to encounter God more through our interactions. I don't want to be a christian confined to my specific lifestyle maintaining superficial relationships and encounters - I want to go deeper. In ALL of my relationships, but especially those with fellow believers.
I could really dive into this topic, but I will leave it where it is for now. God has stirred my heart for more and I am determined to find it, create it, be it, do whatever He calls me to do to be immersed in the kind of community He aches for us to be in.
Lord teach me how to love.