May 19, 2013

the body

"a church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints." abigail van buren

i love the church. let me say it again: i LOVE the church. after being the daughter of a minister for 25 years, that is something that i am boldly and easily able to say. one thing that i am frequently learning and being reminded of is that i am not, can not, and will never be perfect and neither is the church. while the design of the church is perfect, the people who form it are not. and while it can be tempting to view the church as a collection of people who have it "all together," it's actually a gathering of broken bodies seeking the help of one another and of GOD in order to find healing and to become whole.

i write the following post in a spirit of love and not in a spirit of bitterness. i also write as a person who sometimes has difficulty seeing due to the planks in my own eyes. i do not attempt to correct or remove the specks in the eyes of others with this post as i am not perfect and as i am certain that i am guilty of all 3 actions of which i write today.

as a member of the church and a part of the body, it can be easy to become complacent, stagnant, and a little too comfortable at times. it can be easy to become self-absorbed and focused on our own goodness and involvement. it can also be easy to rely on the other body parts at times in order to get good things accomplished. and it can be extremely easy to abuse the body of CHRIST and the worship environment in order to seek our own agenda or to pursue a hidden mission.

the following 3 areas are ways in which i've seen the worship environment and time of fellowship with the church be abused and misused by us, the members of the church and parts of the body. i feel that these areas primarily apply to young women but could also be applied indirectly to others of us who sometimes forget the real reason why we come together each week as a body of believers.

the runway. a very brilliant young woman i know recently made the point at our girls' home bible study that while it is of significant importance to present our best before GOD by dressing accordingly for worship, is it not of equal importance that we aren't trying to impress or please others with the way that we dress and that we are solely focused on honoring GOD with our appearance? how many of us fall guilty, however, of wanting to astound those around us with our brand new haircut, adorable new dress, or great new pair of shoes?

how often does the worship setting and time with the church turn into a runway and place of self-promotion and the seeking of attention? do we get a thrill from looking beautiful, cute, handsome, sharp, or excessively classy in the presence of others? does feeling this form of goodness influence or motivate our desire to attend and ultimately to worship? are we more aware and worried about what others will think of our appearance than we are about the perception of our GOD?

if we are the body, why are we more concerned with pleasing our audience rather than our maker?

the ultimate revenge. i believe that any young, single female who has ever dated can relate to that uncomfortable tension that immediately emanates from the eye contact created between yourself and an ex. whether it's an ex-boyfriend, a casual dater, or someone with whom there was mutual attraction and interest, that awkward moment of meeting can create a whole host of bizarre and upsetting symptoms: that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach. the immediate racing of the heart. the excessive elevation of blood pressure. the imminent inability to think of or to produce the right words. and what can be even more awkward is when that ex is a fellow member of the same congregation, with the eye contact occurring sometimes on a triweekly basis.

but what is really troubling is when we young girls use the church and the worship setting in order to seek revenge or get attention from that former guy by bringing the new guy to escort us and be our visitor. what better revenge than to force that guy who used to like us to watch us sit with his replacement for a solid hour while we worship? or even better, to sit in a tiny room filled with people for bible class where there is nowhere else to look than right at our little spectacle? and who can blame us for being so kind and inviting someone to worship with us, right? and if anyone asks, that's really all we're doing, right? ;)

if we are the body, why do we try to hurt and inflict injury upon our body's other parts?

the personal statement. let's be honest, the worship/church environment is an easy place to arouse immediate attention. whether it's with a certain outfit choice, the accompaniment of a certain guest or friend, or the attitude we convey to the people around us, we are always making some kind of personal statement. and sometimes i wonder if the personal statement that we are hoping to make is more motivating to our attendance and participation than our desire to fellowship with one another and to engage in worship to our GOD.

sometimes just our attendance in general can make a statement: attending on a christmas, a mother's day, or an easter. intentionally attending or not attending because of the set speaker. becoming a frequent attender in the hopes of appearing spiritual. not attending to demonstrate the strength of our relationship with GOD and not needing organized religion. intentionally increasing attendance or leaving a congregation after a certain decision has been made.

if we are the body, why does our personal statement sometimes take precedence over the WORD?

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