I’ve gone to church all my life. Sunday mornings. Sunday evenings. Wednesday nights. Pot Luck Suppers. You name it, if those doors were opened, we were going. As far back as I can remember, I went to church. Going to church was what I thought I was supposed to be doing – so that, you know – the Devil wouldn’t get me. I was motivated to keep going to church. Motivated by fear that if I didn’t, my life would fall apart, or that sure enough, that ole Devil would indeed get me.
The irony looking back is that despite all my faithful “going to church” – the Devil was not only getting me, he was devouring me. My going to church had very little to nothing to do with actually following Jesus, or staying out of the clutch of the enemy. Everything changed after I truly surrendered to Jesus a little over 3 years ago – and He started to wreck shop on stuff in my life (as He is apt to do once you let Him in). As He was making me new, He was simultaneously stoking my desire for “More” – more of Him, His Life and His Kingdom. I needed More, More being Jesus – and He told me I could have as much as I want – because He is inexhaustible in His riches. There is always More.
Once I received that I was a beloved Son, He opened my eyes to also receive that my showing up once or twice per week to a scheduled service to be a spectator to a scheduled and predetermined order of worship had nothing, nothing to do with moving the needle of acceptance by my Father. It never would, nor would anything else. My place at His table was eternally set, and I could eat as much of the Feast as I wanted. I was free. And free Sons respond out of an overflow of Love from Father – to His Life in them. He told me very clearly,
So, I entered the wilderness He beckoned me to, quit “going” and started to let Him show me how to “Be” and simply abide and draw near. And in my drawing nearer of seeking that More – He began to reshape old paradigms – including elements of religion… and church.
There was More beyond the confines of the denomination I had spent my entire life in. What were denominations anyway? And why did they exist? There was More than sitting idly, listening to the same person speak to me each week on Sunday morning. There was More than singing the same old songs, with predictable verse and cadence, and being told when I should sit and when I should stand. There was More than Bible Studies and Sunday School classes – where knowledge in the head never seemed very effective in changing hearts. There was More than another small group meeting – where a few dominated the talking, a few never said anything, and almost all were there punching a clock, hoping to skate by without having to be exposed or be real in any way, waiting until they could be home again to watch Grey’s Anatomy or whatever… There was More than the buildings and the schedules and the budgets and leadership hierarchies and “professional” ministry and check-the-box Sunday/Wednesday faith. There was More than the “going” to church. More – Life – He was showing me, is realized in “BE-ing.”
More dwelled and was revealed in an organic nature of learning to Live by Divine Life, together – like the First Century Christians did “church.” Once I had begun to taste that and see that – it left everything else tasting and looking like a dry, stale cracker. More became my Dream, and it looked like this. What I had tasted and seen was Jesus Christ Himself. I had been transformed by His Life. I had now become a part of the flow of the Kingdom – and It was real in those occasions when I was gathered with Brothers and Sisters, and we would just let The Holy Spirit do His thing amongst us, with no regard to what our expectations, or “thing” was. This was happening spontaneously and virally in living rooms and across lunch booths and in golf carts and in offices. I was seeing blind eyes opened. I was seeing the dead raised. I was seeing the captives set free. I was seeing Heaven on Earth. And it was all happening frequently, as the Lord lead, every day of the week, any minute of those days. And I had never seen anything like any of that when I was just “going to church.
Consequently, I became flat out bored with the “going to church” mindset. There was no Life in it. Don’t get me wrong, I love and have cherished relationship with the Brothers and Sisters that I was “going” with. My boredom had nothing to do with them, or even the “church” fellowship per se. However, I found myself increasingly crawling out of my skin with a desire to halt all the mundane and predictable proceedings – gather those precious people in a circle, pray that Jesus would lead – and then shut up and watch what He had in mind. But stuff like that sounds like “chaos” to the “going” mindset. No, it had everything to do with walking in an incomplete paradigm – about Jesus, and His Life as expressed through His Body. For me, going to church became rote and empty because I was “going to” or “doing” something that I simply, already am.