the concept of church has confounded me now for some time, and it seems i'm not the only one. it's the topic of many conversations, especially among Concordia college friends. is it because church is the most misunderstood aspect of the Christian faith? or is there another aspect of Christianity that is misunderstood more frequently than church? i doubt it. besides the fact that church is considered to be bound within 4 walls, there are plenty of other misconceptions, such as the congregation's absurdly heavy reliance on the pastor. rather than a spiritual leader, a pastor becomes an enabler. the top-down authority is a common perspective among Christians.
i brought this up to this morning's women's Bible study group (made of women ages 40-60--I'm the youngest). the question was regarding Berea, a church in Acts. as knowledgable people, the Bereans examined Paul's teaching against their own knowledge of Scripture to make sure he knew what he was talking about. the question was asked: why was it important that the Berean's were choosey about their intake of information? how is their response to Paul an example to us? I mentioned the fact that it's important we all take ownership of our faith, rather than leave it up to a leader to tell us what to believe. the fact is, leaders/pastors/theological buffs are human. Scripture is not. it is divinely inspired and should be a daily portion of every believer's life. i explained that i became frustrated when at Bible study, our friends often "jokingly" turn down jonathan's request for them to pray for the study--for food, or for closing, whatever. it becomes a five-minute discussion because they'd rather jonathan do it. it's the same thing at many social gatherings where a pastor is present, or for that matter, a church leader is present. who is asked to pray? it's rarely laity. and yet, the priesthood of ALL believers is a core belief of the Christian faith.
the response i received in the women's Bible study really irked me, i'm not gonna lie. one of the women (a good friend of mine, i might add) said "but we all have different talents."
i couldn't even respond. it's not that i don't believe different people have different gifts. some people have the gift of intercession and some don't. but this does not concern the gift of intercession. this is regular, standard prayer we're talking about--and prayer is SO vital to a Christian's walk with God. i wonder--how often do lay Christians pray in their home? with their children? with their spouse? how important is Scripture study/memorization to all of us "regular people" in the church?
we had some interesting passages in church today that i don't think i've noticed before. luke 13:7 is a parable of Jesus: "Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?"
and so i have to ask myself if i am merely a consumer like the fig tree. am i using up ground worthlessly, producing no fruit? is consumerism the only art the church has perfected today? i truly believe that the fruit God is waiting to receive is what he has created us for. he has given each of us gifts, and when we are released to do what we were created to do, to love, to make music, to tell jokes, to serve, to design, etc., when we do it all for him, it will be the fruit he is looking for. but if we sit back and let those gifts go because we'd rather have the "professional" do it, then the church is missing out on the perfect plan God had for us. we all have great things to contribute and should never diminish our purpose.