Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Thoughts on Church
I can't explain exactly what happened, but in the past year I have become a (somewhat) regular churchgoer. Maybe becoming more religious is part of getting older. Possibly my quest for self-improvement exposed a spiritual vacuum. All I know is that I started to feel like something was missing in my life, and religion seems to be filling the gap.
I have always believed in God, except for maybe a period of skepticism in my teens and early twenties. I remember hearing someone say, "I couldn't believe in God unless I had some proof that He existed," and thinking- look around you. How can He not exist? To me, it doesn't seem possible that the whole universe and all of humankind can be explained by some random acts of chemistry.
Even though I was a believer, church attendance always seemed like an obligation before. I rarely attended. When I did I would endure the service but feel relieved when it ended. Guilt would result, which would make the whole thing even more unpleasant.
What I learned is that there are TONS of congregations and denominations out there, and you can look around until you find one that really inspires you. I hope this isn't blasphemy, but I don't think there is a wrong way to worship the Lord. He never seemed like a petty guy to me. Even if He is, going to some sort of church must be better than not going at all.
Here is what I love about my new church and church family: for at least 90 minutes on Sunday, I get to be surrounded by friendly, positive people. Everyone is welcome. We all have some not great things in our past, and we know God has forgiven us for them. We sing God's praises, literally, with and electric guitar and drums to accompany us. Total strangers will pray for you if you ask. The pastors don't take themselves too seriously. Global and local outreach are an important part of the church's work.
For me, the outreach is the main reason I have decided to stay with this particular church. Remember Emptying the Ocean with a Teaspoon? Here is the solution: join forces with other people! We can band together and send livestock to poor communities, shoes to Haitian orphans, complete home repairs for a local family...the possibilities are endless. We get to be the hands and feet of God, and aren't we blessed to have the opportunity!
Anyway, I'm not trying to convert anyone, or bash any one denomination or promote another one. All I'm saying is that I really have been feeling the hand of God in my life lately, and it feels great to know that I'm not doing it all alone.