I went to a new church this morning. I am amazed that I am actually having motivation to go church hunting. It's a really hard thing though, there are so many things about the church that I saw this morning that pissed me off. I often feel like no matter where I go, I will not be satisfied with any church. I think that's true to some degree, but there has to be a church that I at least don't mind being a part of. A church like that has to exist.
One thing that really bothered me this morning was that the sermon was on "being an appreciated gift". This brings up memories of a sermon that Krislin and I heard a couple months ago in Palos Verdes. Good thing the sermon this morning was not actually about being an appreciated gift at all because it had nothing to do with being appreciated. The title still rubbed me the wrong way. We all want to be appreciated, but we can't make other people appreciate us, and that's not what it should be about anyway. The pastor did call Jesus the ultimate appreciated gift, and Jesus was totally unappreciated. He was hated and spurned even by the people closest to Him. The rest of the sermon was actually okay. He preached out of Romans 12 and made the huge leap that being an appreciated gift meant living a life worthy of the grace we've recieved. So the rest of the sermon was about that. Another thing that was hard was that he was talking about authenticity. Authenticity is something that I've been feeling is lacking in the Christian church. To me, authenticity means that you're real with people, that you let people in on what's actually going on inside of you. He preached that following Romans 12:14-21 makes you an authentic Christian. Read Romans 12:14-21 and tell me, who the hell is actually like that?
"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary:
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
If you are like that then I'm sorry for offending you, but I definitely am not. I think we need to strive for it, train to become the people that are actually like that on the inside. But I'm not pretending that that's what it's like to be an authentic Christian. We're gonna fail, so I think being authentic means coming clean with those failures. I think that's what brings people together, not fake politeness and hospitality.
I understand that the Pastor wasn't really teaching anything wrong per se. I just feel like he wasn't covering all his bases. I know I can't expect pastors to always cover their bases, then they'd be talking forever. I mean there's a reason they only preach on a little thing every week. Maybe he'll cover the whole "fakeness of the church" thing in some other sermon. I think I have to actually meet and get to know a pastor well. I tend to have a pretty low level of respect for pastors in general, maybe because I have high expectations of them because they have a large influence in people's lives, and they never live up to my expectations. Wow, this post brought up a lot of stuff for me that was a little unexpected.
I know I'm critical and judgemental, and I'm praying against that all the time, God kinda overcame it this morning in the service. I feel like I was able to take good things from it (I know I didn't really talk about the good things in this post). I guess that makes me even more confused. I can't tell if I liked the church today or hated it. I am sure that I don't want to belong there though, and I guess that's enough for me. I have to say though that it made me think and reflect on what it means to be a Christian and seek God because of how I disagreed with things. That's definitely something I should do more often. Anyway, I guess we'll try the church hunting again next week.
Sorry for all this ranting, although it is my blog and I can post whatever I want and you can choose to read it or not :). Thanks for reading it though if you still are, I am really thankful that there are people that care to read about my life. I love you guys.