Growing up, we develop in ourselves a set of values and expectations that govern how we feel an organization, club, or friendship should act. This is instilled in us from the year that we’re born, and especially when we enter into education.
We’re taught in school that good efforts get rewarded and praised, while bad efforts and bad behaviors get punished and reprimanded. Our parents are involved in every aspect of our education to ensure that we are able to perform at the highest level possible.
We’re taught in clubs that common interests and hobbies are what bring people together. Similarly, we learn that friendships often derive from these common interests and shared experiences.
We’re also inundated in our lives with constant entertainment. We pay hundreds of dollars to be entertained, and some of our culture’s biggest voices are entertainers (see Top Twitter Users - 3 music stars rank higher than our own President). We love good performances and idolize those that perform well, whether it’s music, sports, or theatre.
Then when we gather together on Sundays under a building no different from the ones that we’re in 5 days a week plus a wooden cross, we bring these deep, deep assumptions in with us.
We get disciplines and habits forced upon us and expect to perform.
We are discouraged when we can’t find anyone that is likeminded to us.
We sit in our comfortable chairs and expect to be entertained, and ask things like “Did you like the sermon?” like one would after a Lady Gaga Concert.
I’m realizing more and more that I have to re-think what I believe church to be, and unlearn the things that our culture has taught us.
When the entire world around us teaches us to live for ourselves, I need to constantly be reminded that Jesus calls me to die to myself.
Church is not a place to be judged based on what we do and what disciplines we partake in — we all have fallen short of the glory of God, and we are saved by Jesus’ good works, not our own. (Romans 3:23, Ephesians 2:8-9)
Church is not so much a place for people to find friends as it is a place for people to realize their family. (Romans 8:14-15)
Church is not a passive, lean-back entertainment experience — it is a fight, a struggle, a war against the powers and principalities of this world. (Ephesians 6:12)
Selfishness, greed, and indulgence are expected and encouraged in our culture, but I pray that these do not define the members of the Kingdom that God has made holy.
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” - Romans 12:1-2