I know it is Christmas Sunday and a time for joy as we celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ into the world – however my heart remains heavy for we bear many burdens, which we try as able to lay before the Lord – and I know he does not give us more than we can bear – but every now and again, it gets tough.
One burden I have is in more and more realizing why many who claim to be Christians just don’t or won’t “go to church” (that is, be apart of a community of faith), at least here where we are. Among the many reasons, in our current environment I am pretty sure for many it is the lure of the world. They want to be accepted and not rejected. In our current situation living for the Lord comes with a very high price: rejection and persecution.
Oh, this perscution is not necessarilyof the beat people up kind – we’re much too sophisticated for that anymore. Instead, it goes between the quiet turning away from people, and the flat out mockery of one’s faith in Christ. But really, at the heart of it, people want to be accepted and to have friends. It is pretty isolated here and can get lonely. Here, where we live, to be accepted and have friends and go to church (by “go to church” I mean be a part of a community of faith), that isn’t going to work! You can’t have it both ways – so what to do? Skip church. Much of this could be too that people are just busy. The work schedules are pretty crazy around here and many many low level employees work what I call “the evil shift. ” The evil shift is from about 11am-7pm or 12noon to 8pm – this schedule makes it difficult for many to attend a service, even if they want to. But too, I know there are many who do not work this schedule and still will not or choose not to attend a service, even if they know they should (there are five different service times people can choose from between the three different Protestant churches here – there are options).
Really, I don’t mean to be judgemental, I am not trying to come across that way – I really do care that people who call themselves Christians would find a place to belong here. But I do happen to know there are many to are being lured away from the church by the world. Perhaps too, it really is a relevance issue. Perhaps the churches here have functioned and continue to function in way that is completely irrelevant to people – perhaps they just don’t see the point in going. That very well could be the case.
The lure of the world is a common problem and if one is not careful it can be easy to get caught up in it. It is okay and good that people want to be accepted and not rejected. It is a basic human trait God put in each of us – a desire for value and significance. But what is important to remember is that our sense of significance and acceptance needs to come from God first and foremost, and perhaps, alone. People are too fincky and picky – we’re too sin-full, too broken by our sin, to be able to accept everyone, if anyone. But God accepts each one of us becasue we are his creation. He made us and to him we are significant and accepted.
This is the accpetance we should be looking for: acceptance from God. Where can we, or should we find that acceptance? I would argue it should be and must be within the community of faith, the local church, who are the people of God. As his people, he has accepted us, and so too we should accept one another. But this may be too idealistic – it is not always reality – sometimes the most significant acts of rejection come from other Christians. This is a real shame.
I pray those who live where where we are, will over come the lure of the world and instead open their hearts to the love and acceptance that can only come from God and that those who are in the church will put aside their prejudices and learn to accept people just as God accepts us in Christ.
I hope this makes some sense.