Sunday, June 16, 2013

Rethinking The House of God

 Familiar feelings arose in me a few Sunday's ago when I read once again the house of God scriptures in Psalms that suggest our corporate church gatherings as Christians should be a place of safety and rest in the presence of the Lord.  What goes on at church is a subject we misfits return to as we process what's happened to us since we left our controlling churches and what our future holds.  For another post on The House of God I wrote a few years back, click here if you are in the mood for further reading.
Here are a few of the scriptures referencing the house of God: 
Psalm 27:4-5"One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock."
Psalm 84: "How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!  2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.  3 Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. 4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you."  10 "Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked."
Reading these verses this time around I found myself feeling angry with the people who have turned the weekly Christian gathering into something we can no longer trust.  It's not our fault that we no longer fit in a church system that doesn't fit into God's description of what it should be.  Those scriptures infer safety and protection and a place of refuge, but it's obvious that someone has hijacked the meaning of going to church.  What we have lost is a true place of refuge, a great assembly to meet with the Lord, and a much needed reprieve from what we go through in the world.  It's been replaced by elements of the world system such as political posturing, elevating the pastors and their families to celebrity status and blatent nepatism and favoritism.  Instead of receiving replenishment for the week, we receive pressure to give a huge portion of our time and money to the machine, and sometimes even a chiding that we aren't doing enough to keep it alive and running. 

We are encouraged in scripture to honor the Sabbath, but Sabbath rest certainly doesn't come into play since there is no rest to be had.  It has become less and less about finding Jesus within what He called the house of prayer - in fact, prayer itself is one of many duties we must perform to assure the mighty machine runs smoothly.  We are made to feel like work horses who need to pull our weight.  This is taught from the pulpit and inferred weekly in the announcement segment that can last up to a half hour, plugging the need for all the groups and activity we need to support. 

Think about this:  For those in charge of God's House, it's a glorious place of sustenance and fulfillment. As long as the lead pastors can keep the volunteers busy propping up their ministry it works really well for them. Then think about the rest of the people, the worker bee volunteers, who lose sight of the Lord's true plan for their lives. It's like they are handing over their destiny to someone they have been taught is more important who deserve their undivided allegience and resources because they are in the work of the ministry.  As long as the layity is kept busy making the Pastor's vision succeed, there is little time to implement the vision God has given to each of them. If you observe the lives of people who are currently serving in churches today, their lives are consumed with meetings and events involving the church.

NonCelebrity Christian and I have been talking lately about how we can relate to the fury of Jesus when he encountered money changers in the temple when he took a whip to drive them out.  Jesus had an issue with turning His Father's house into a marketplace when it was supposed to be a house of prayer.  He also had an issue with the religiosity of the church leaders lording their positions over the people.  It seems so apparent that these issues have not only infilitrated the Church today, they have taken over.  Makes me want to cry out to Jesus 'where is your whip when we need it most?' 

Not to think too highly of ourselves, lest we become like those who are suspect in our minds, but perhaps the voice of the blogging world on the internet is one of the whips?  Just a suggestion, but will anything change until we are mad enough to stand up and say enough is enough?  Actually many of us are doing that.  As NonCeleb has often said, we are voting with our feet. 

Once we have voted with our feet, then what?  Is this where the journey takes a turn into an even deeper walk with the Lord one on one?  Can we be satisfied accepting that His house is a more personal one and can we trust Him to meet our every need of blessing and protection without aligning ourself to a local pastor family?  It's not like we can give our hearts to yet another church because the same government structure exists there as well.  And the answer doesn't necessarily lie in beginning another church, mainly because it will end up the same way.  Shouldn't the Christian walk be about each person being free to do the work of the ministry in the way God has called him to, touching the lives who God brings his way? 

So perhaps the answer is to continue to hang loose and wait on God and let whatevers going to happen 'happen organically' as my daughter is fond of saying.  "It" may never involve four walls again.  If that's what God has planned, is that enough for us?  It doesn't mean we haven't grieved over what should have been and that we don't pray for God to salvage what He can from the mess we have seemed to have made of His Church these days. 

I am doing my best to rethink these scripture concerning God's house and personalize them more.  Maybe that's what was meant all along, I don't know.  I do know I am comforted when He meets with me in the secret place which is indeed a type of house.  And yes, it is enough when I allow it to be, because He fills my cup like none other.  And no man or demonic plan can infiltrate His presence and take that from me or any of us.