Attending or Attached?

15 09 2010

Words matter. The words we use to describe our walk with Jesus and our relationship with His “Bride,” the “Church” matter.

If we say, “I am going to church on Sunday,” is this the way it should be said? That is the way it has been said for eons, but does it really describe what we are doing? And if we say it that way, aren’t we saying that one day we are moving from our home to a building for a specific activity called “church”?  We have now glued the church on a spot, and the church was never meant to be stuck. We are also saying that when we get there, that’s church; what happened before we got there, was not.

What about when we say, “I attend” this or that church.  What does that say about us?  It means to go to something, to be present, and to observe what is occurring there. Attend says nothing about relationship, only about the choice to show up in one place versus another. Now the church seems like an option in the Leisure Guide where you might attend one course this season and another the next.  “Attend” has no buy-in, it is simply your name on a list.

Words can mislead; I don’t just mean “mislead” in the sense that they can be unclear, I mean they can literally lead us down the wrong path; as innocent as “Hurry up, we are going to be late for church,” sounds, it is one more example of how “the church” became a thing we show up at, versus a people who who are as connected as the parts of our physical body. Whoever said, “What church do you go to?” probably had good intentions, but those six little words changed the Church.

I am reading Acts right now and it frustrates me. I should be inspired by it, but some days it just bugs me. When chapter 2 verse 44 says, “All the believers were together and had everything in common…” it makes me jealous. When will we mean something like that to each other? When will we stop “going to church” and “attending” on a Sunday and start wanting to be the church with a sincerity of heart and a desire…

Yeah, a desire.  A desire to walk together over the long haul, to fix what needs fixing together, to struggle through it and not quit, to come back to the table again and again and again, longing for Jesus to work in us and through us, to fix us and to fix the world.

I have a feeling, a bad gut feeling, that this won’t happen until things get really bad; until we really need each other. Is that what it will take?

Gathering is one of the things “the church” did together. They also devoted themselves to learning and equipping and motivating one another, carrying one another’s burdens and sharing with each other, remembering Christ in the Lord’s Supper and worshiping and encouraging one another, working out conflicts and reconciling, sorting through beliefs and issues; there was a lot going on as they gathered. There was a desire to be together, a need to be together because who knows what the week would bring as the church was out and about in the world, representing Jesus as literally as they could. There was no casual approach to any of it.

Can we be what Acts 2 is describing?  Courses and Programming are not going to accomplish this. Structures are not going to accomplish this. It is each individual Christ-follower wanting it and choosing to move from casual observer with no obligations, to sitting at the table and working it out with the group of people we are attaching ourselves to.

Attaching ourselves to; now that has a different ring to it.

I think a lot about this because it is easy for me to pretend to be attached. I am, after all, a “pastor’s wife” (Labels. Don’t get me started). Some could say, “It’s your job.” If this is my job, I quit. I am not kidding. If I am a part of this because I need something to do, I can think of, conservatively, a thousand things to do that don’t involve such close and sometimes painful contact and personal investment.

But it is not a job: “Jesus, this better not be a job!”

I don’t know what all this will mean someday; this attachment.  I hope I get it more often than I don’t as I and as we try to be a light on the hill. I can only speak for myself, as all of us only can, about who and what I attached myself to and what was really alive and well in my heart. I wonder how well I will have merged with God’s plan and God’s people? Was I fully the “part” of the Body Christ gifted me to be? And if change is in the air at some point, will it really be God asking me to “detach” in some way and engage somewhere else, or will it be because it would be simpler; less complicated?

There are so many doors available to open. So many doors so easy to shut to get some peace and quiet. “God, help me to stand firm, to not be easily moved out of community. To be fully present in these relationships that you have attached me to, and give me the confidence to know that none of it is in vain.”

— Teresa Klassen

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