Did My Ego Outweigh The Problem?

I’m afraid it did… You see, I’ve been grappling with a problem for some time now that I couldn’t quite manage. Simply put, a recent idea was somehow adopted, absorbed, or otherwise planted into the minds of some dear friends and church family. Simply put, they are placing a lot less emphasis on being worship participants. IE, they’re convinced they don’t need to be in church as much as they used to.

From what I can ascertain, this all started as a healthy look inward. What can I do to shore up my Faith? Can I study from home? Can I do so often? Can I evangelize to others outside my ‘normal church’ circles? Those questions can and should be asked and answered. But, a conclusion drawing you away from the church body isn’t a proper conclusion at all. Unfortunately, that was verdict.

Sure, there are times when it truly may be necessary to leave a church. If you found yourself in the pews of the Mars Hill Church (Seattle) in 2012 for example, or at just about any time at any place where Joel Osteen is preaching, you should make your exit. Unworthy conduct, manipulation of the Scripture, “name it and claim it” theology, etc. are practices that you need to divorce yourself from. Pronto. But, a good portion of the time there is plenty that churches can correct with your participation rather than solely your complaints. Not only can they alter their trajectory, but they can truly improve the health of the church when you and others commit. That happens far less when a decision is embraced that includes absence.

I wish it weren’t even necessary to delve into why absence from church needs to be countered, but if I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times, “I don’t need to go to church to be a good Christian.” There’s a lot there to unpack, granted, but I’ll hit the high points real quick for you. There is no “good” person, Christian or not, roaming the Earth. Only one, Perfect to the core, fully Man, fully God – Jesus Christ, was “good” as defined by the Almighty. The rest of us are responsible for His death – far from perfect and certainly not good. We sin, and we sin plenty. If you call that “good” you’re dumb as you are stupid. We’re certainly capable of good things and we can often do good in the world, but we aren’t good inherently, thus the continual struggle.

But, if you move beyond that, I’d like to understand how you intend to fulfill the mandate to share the Gospel with others without some help and context. I’m not saying it cannot be done. It can, but it appears to have been done, in a vacuum anyway, extremely rarely. Church attendance, and furthermore, membership, is clearly Biblical.

Instead, brothers and sisters, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.

Acts 6:3

Select among what? CHURCH MEMBERS – no church, no selection among who would become deacons and leaders in the body, right? Luke gathers this account to clarify they weren’t randomly grabbing dudes hocking magic beans in the bazarre that day, but qualified members of their worship body. You obviously can’t grab people from a group of believers that doesn’t exist. Ergo, the early formation of the church and the mandate are Biblical.

Obey your leaders and submit to them—for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account—so that they may do this with joy, not groaning; for this would be unhelpful for you.

Hebrews 13:17

This not only helps illustrate what a leader is supposed to do but it paints a picture of the flock. Flock is another word for church members. A flock is guided by a shepherd. A flock is a group, just like a body of believers in worship together.

You can’t have church leaders without a church. Get the dust out of your brain and be honest. And oh, by the way, we’re to be aligned in our thoughts as a body. Try this bit on for size from the letter to the church at Philippi:

make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.

Philippians 2:2

There is a clear way to handle things within and outside the church. If you’re unclear on that, go read Matthew 18 over and over until you get it.

And then there’s little nugget in case you missed it which is the epitome of the formation of the church and also the expectation:

42They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

43Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44And all the believers were together and had all things in common; 45and they would sell their property and possessions and share them with all, to the extent that anyone had need. 46Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Acts 2:42-47

No place in the text listed above or any place in Scripture taken into full context will you find an encouragement to leave the church. NO PLACE. There are plenty of warnings on conduct and some harsh comments, but I have found no place with an exit sign.

“What on Earth does this have to do with your ego and will you get to the point?” Yeah, I can do that… My very dear friends, whom I love very much, have taken the posture that their inward journey dictates a departure from their physical realm. For all intents and purposes, they’re certain being a fully engaged part of the church isn’t necessary. But here’s the tricky part – while I knew this was bogus I haven’t been honest about it with them. Sure I’ve tried to present them with the items above in my own way, but I was neither as blunt as I could have been nor as polished with the scripture above.

Two things have now become obvious to me. I was HURT by what I was witnessing and wasn’t honest about it. When they said they didn’t need to be in church, they were also saying they didn’t want to be near me. That wasn’t expressly said, but it is the truth eventually. And I very much wish to be among them. That was painful for me I’ll admit. I got caught up in how all this made me feel, and I nearly headed down the road of making it an argument. I was passive-aggressive about things when I made jokes and comments to them. Yes, humor is one of my tools, but I didn’t use it well. What I eventually learned about this situation was pretty horrible. I had begun making this about myself, not Him. That’s ego, pure and simple. And I fight that with every fiber of my being on a daily basis.

Rather than coming to them with scripture and sharing my concern with love and humility, I gave them reasons to avoid church with my poor behavior and silly thoughts. I should have made my concern Christ-centered and I surely didn’t. I had the correct gut response, but I let “ME” get in the way and should have removed myself as best I could from the equation. When I focus on Him, I tend to continually do well. When I depart, I mess it up.

Lesson learned. I pray irreparable damage hasn’t been done. I did a poor job of being both Salt and Light, but it isn’t a mistake I plan to continue. I seek God’s Grace and also that of my dear friends, for I have failed them both in this. …A failure I pray to never duplicate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *