I was pretty nervous about going to church today. Isn’t it funny how you can let things be blown way out of proportion? My new friend, Christina, was running late this morning so that was the perfect excuse for me not go in on time… 🙂 When she got there the worship service had just concluded, which might have been a blessing. Not that I don’t see the value in worship. I think it’s incredibly important, but perhaps it’s because of my background in the Mormon church that I’ve never been able to feel comfortable with the hands raised in the air, rockin out to Jesus thing. More than that, it seems like Christian worship music all sounds the same. That’s another discussion though… 🙂 Regardless, I didn’t have to deal with that today. I just had to go in and receive from God.
Right off the bat, the pastor said something along the lines of “Why would you want to walk with someone who doesn’t believe in you, who doesn’t support you, who isn’t interested in you…” and so on. The message was about developing a relationship with God and how so often we look at the failed relationships in our lives and reflect that on our relationship with God. So much of the message I felt was incredibly relevant to myself and I’m happy to say that I took a lot away from this experience.
What was on my brain before this even started was my relationship with this Church. When I heard this opening about “why would you want to walk with a person who isn’t interested in you” and so on, I related this to my experience in this church. I kept thinking, “EXACTLY” and “That is the VERY REASON I don’t want to be a part of this church”. The whole point is to walk with God right? So you use church to walk with other people who are walking with God. And why on earth would you want to walk with the type of people he’s talking about? Because those people are exactly who I saw.
And then towards the end of the service, the pastor invited all of his leaders to the front. He then invited members of the congregation who haven’t felt a close relationship with God to come forward to these leaders to be hugged and feel God’s love by proxy. Before I go any further, I want to clarify that I’m positive that from a different perspective this was a beautiful, spiritual thing that was happening and I admire those who went forward. I’m sure they did experience God’s love in that moment. But what I was seeing was one of my huge problems with the church staring me in the face.
This problem that I have stems from my experience with the hierarchy system in the Mormon church. At the most basic level, women don’t hold the priesthood (the power and authority to act in God’s name). So as a woman, in order for me to have God act in my life I would have to go through someone else. That is a power reserved only for men. And then from there, there is a sort of ranking system of holiness. Certain people who have higher callings in the church are given a different level of respect. This ranking system is absolutely present in the Christian church as well. I don’t believe that it stems from an evil place. I believe both groups have good intentions but get really caught up in working their way to the top.
What was staring me in the face was that after this message about getting a relationship with God for yourself, they were instructing members of the congregation that they still have to go through someone else to get it. Not only does it make it harder to have faith in your own ability to connect with God, but it separates these leaders from the normal people. This raises them up to being holier than you and therefore less likely to be able to come down to your level to have a sincere relationship. What really clicked for me today is that I’ve been right there and have that tendency to want to be that leader. I want to be “the most spiritual” or “the best Christian”. I realized that perhaps this is the reason I didn’t want to come back to church in the first place. Not because there were some people that weren’t so great to me, but because I didn’t like the person I was being in order to fit in or to have a place in the church.
Now I feel convinced that I do need church in my life, just not in the same way I thought I did. Looking back over the last few years, every time I’ve gone to church my heart has been softened, I’ve felt the love of God, and witnessed a powerful message. I haven’t been able to stay anywhere because I get so caught up in the politics of a church. I feel like something really important happened to me today. I know that I want to be regularly receiving a witness of God and that needs to be it. I don’t need to get involved in a specific church. I don’t need to and shouldn’t get involved in leadership. I need God and that’s it.