One of the many things I've been thinking about recently is how my perception of "nominal Christians" (or Christians in name only) has drastically changed over time. I used to think of them only as people who didn't go to church. You know how when you were a little kid in Sunday school and you'd hear the adults talking in hushed tones about so-and-so who didn't make it to church except on sacred holidays...THAT'S what I always thought of as a "nominal Christian". Turns out, though, that I'm starting to notice that there can be a lot more nominal Christians IN church than there may be outside of it.
It's pretty easy to hide in church. It's easy to go to the Sunday service, hear some cool music, listen to the message from the minister and then head home for lunch. Nothing is really required of us except attendance and the appearance of interest. However, I have seen people with some of the deepest relationships with God and some of the most truthful and honest, faith-filled lives living OUTSIDE of church. Many of those people have either been disillusioned by the idea of "church" as we have known it in the past, or they have realized that, even though church can be awesome, it isn't a requirement for a heart-to-heart relationship with the Creator...which is true.
Yes, I firmly believe in the idea of "the fellowship of the believers" and the fact that hanging out with other people who love God and want to know him more can build you up as a person and can strengthen you in your Christian walk. I just don't think that it HAS to look like what we've made church out to be. It doesn't have to look like THIS ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ys4Nx0rNlAM )! Yeah, it's meant to be funny, but it really caused me to think long and hard about the sadness I felt when I watched it. Many of us can recognize our churches somewhere in that video. The truth is, church as we know it can be the one thing that turns people away...sad, but true. I think that in our struggle to make church relevant to our 21st century society, we have made it irrelevant to the kingdom of God.
Thus, I am trying to be as loving and as non-judgmental as I can be as I try to figure out why God has been speaking to me about these things. They aren't concepts that would have come to my mind on my own, so they are coming to me for a reason. I think God is really trying to get me to rethink what I want out of this Christian life and what I want from the relationships with the people who are my church. If church doesn't have real, honest relationships that are fruitful and go deeper than the surface, it's not what God intended. I feel like there's a HUGE shaking coming and I want to have my heart ready for the changes that God is going to bring about. In 100 years, I don't think church is going to look ANYTHING like it does now...and I TRULY hope it doesn't. Food for thought.
Today, I'm grateful for...
Norrain. She's encouraging and she's the one who reminds me when I've gotten behind on my gratitudes. Truthfully, I think about how grateful I am every day, but somehow writing about it makes it more real. I'm grateful for Norrain who thinks that reading my gratitude list is like having a morning coffee and a chat with me, despite the fact that we're an ocean apart.
Sunshine. The past few days have been beautiful. The sky has been a clear, bright blue. Seeing the tops of the colorful trees up against the sky is something that makes me happy inside. Even though the changing colors of the leaves means that Summer is truly coming to an end, I love the colors of Fall and I'm going to make it a point to enjoy it. Sunshine always helps.
Daily walks. Yes, I'm still doing them when I can. I have been trying to keep it to 5 days a week, if not more. I feel better when I walk and I feel like I have more energy to get through the rest of the day. God speaks to me without fail and I have the opportunity to mull over the things he's been speaking.
Craziness. Seriously, the past 2 weeks have been non-stop insanity. My brain has not been at rest once. For someone who values peace, it's a hard time. But just waking up every morning and having the ability to jump into the craziness with both feet is a blessing. Every breath, every hour of constant movement, every new morning--all of it is a blessing. I am making the daily choice to see this period of crazy activity and busy-ness as a gift from God. I'm alive, right? :) Just because I'm busy doesn't mean I can't have peace.
Living drama-free. I know that there are people who don't get why I have made the choice to cut drama, and those who create it, out of my life. But I have to say that God has been behind it from the get-go. I prayed for a long time about wanting God to help me with my negative attitude. He answered. First, he inspired me to start acknowledging my gratitude and to really grasp what it means to be truly thankful. You can't be grateful and negative at the same time. Second, he brought it to my attention that, as a Responder, I get easily sucked into other people's negativity and gossip...I hate that. It's toxic. So he spoke to me about cutting all of that out of my life. Yeah, there are times when I need to vent and let out my emotions and other people need to do that, too, but I have asked God to show me who I can trust and who I can't. He's been very specific about who I shouldn't trust. Thus, the pruning has been gradually taking place. When God shows me that I can't trust someone, I listen. It would be much easier to just maintain the status quo and leave things as they are, but I feel like God is moving me into a new stage of life and he has a plan to get me there. This is the beginning, and letting go of the things that hold me back is a part of moving forward. Living drama-free can be lonely sometimes, but because I know that God is in it, I know he'll bring the right people to me.