Many of us who grew up in the church have become disillusioned with the stuff that has been piled on the gospel of Jesus. Some of us have been hurt by others, others have left when the questions they had were dismissed as irrelevant or evil. Some became fed up with the organization and institution that had replaced simple gatherings of God's people. Many of us were looking for a community of faith where we could be devoted to Jesus and other believers.
Some have found a home in liturgical churches, while some have formed "organic" churches. Others continue to wander in the post-church wilderness. I was one of those for a while earlier this year. I was burnt out on the whole idea of church, and was hoping that I would find community with other followers of Jesus somewhere, somehow. I didn't know what form that community would take, and I was open to just about anything. Except church. I just wasn't ready to go back.
As it turns out, God led us to a community of faith in what some would call a traditional church. In the last few months, the Father has taught me a number of things. One of those things is that I need to spend time with others who love me, pray for me, challenge me, and allow me to do the same. I've also seen that I need this more than just an hour or two once a week. I need folks with whom I can share life. Jeff Dunn, over at internetmonk, has written a post that does a very good job of explaining how those of us who have gone back into church-world feel.
In the post, Dunn writes of the time David was about to be killed by a giant by the name of Ishbi-Benob. David was older and was exhausted by the battle. This was a giant that David was not able to slay. Think about it. The mighty warrior-king of Israel, the slayer of ten thousands, was not strong enough at this time in his life. Fortunately, one of David's men, Abishai came to the rescue and killed the giant. David had to depend on another to save his life. I'm sure this was humbling for David. I know it would be for me.
Like Jeff Dunn, Jan and I gather with this church because there is first of all a love for Jesus that is evident. The other reason is the community that we have with the people. We have felt loved and accepted from the first day we visited. We gather together on Sunday, and at various times throughout the week. We realize that our relationships will get messy and difficult from time to time, but we hope in the Gospel to bring us through the mess and into deeper relationships. We need folks around us who can be Abishai to us, and to whom we can be the same. There are things I disagree with, but to me, the essentials are there.
If you are one of those who is still wandering, search for those who can be Abishai to you, whether it's in a "traditional" church, or just a group that shares life in Jesus together.