Today I was at a sort of homeware store with my mum and aunty. This place was huge, anything you could ever want was here, both junk and treasure. I came across a little pink smooth rock with love written on it, and in a jesting fashion I said: “yeah hold that mum and feel the love that an inanimate object can give you.” She shot back quickly, “sort of like God hey Cam?” Bam. It was a good call. I immediately wanted to come back with something witty and defend God and my faith in some way. But it got me thinking…
Sometimes loving and worshipping God feels like loving that rock (an idol you could say). You pray, sing and give money to something that rarely talks back. Life goes on perhaps the same way it was always going to, at best it’s a placebo effect. Nothing seems to have changed, you don’t feel any more spiritual or holy then you did the day before church, in fact, you might walk out feeling more miserable, dirty and wretched then you did before you went. Why is this the case? Isn’t Christianity meant to be full of highs and few lows? Why does it feel like you’re speaking, worshipping into the wind?
Church for me has become more ritual and motion then it has been invigorating, and edifying. I don’t like the church at times, I do find it boring, I find it hard to connect with people unlike myself, to listen to the same preacher, to sing the same sort of songs, to experience the same sort of Christianity every Sunday. More then once I’ve walked out questioning whether there’s more to Christianity then what I’m experiencing. What about you? Does this sound like your experience at times? I’m sure I’m not alone here. Something needs to change… I think that a part of the problem is the way we “do church.”
We’ve lost something that I think was central to the ancient church’s experience. Think back, read about the way people thought of temple and sacred spaces. The temple was the space where Heaven and Earth collided. Where people would go to experience God’s presence and receive the forgiveness of sin. Sacred and holy spaces were so important to the ancient world and especially to the Israelites. People would fear being killed by God because of the sacred nature of the inner sanctum in the temple (Hebrews 9:7). Think back further to Mount Sinai, God dwelt on the top and He commanded that people and even animals were to be put to death if they even touched the base of the sacred mountain (Exodus 19 c.f. Hebrews 12). Go further back again, if Adam and Eve desecrated the Sacred Garden they were to spiritually die and be separated from God’s presence (Genesis 3). Fast forward to the early Church. People went and gathered with one another to hear the Scriptures taught (Acts 2:42), to sing psalms and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19), to minister to the outcast and needy (James 1:27), to practice the new found gifts that the Spirit distributed (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10), to edify one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11), to experience the risen Christ (Ephesians 3:19), God incarnate. For lying to the Spirit Ananias and Sapphira were killed (Acts 5:1-11), people feared the Apostles teachings (Acts 2:43), they had the fear of God. Yet today we treat church like nothing more than a thing we do on Sunday, another meaningless distraction, as a club, not a temple.