“We are all one bread and one body, for we are all partakers of one bread and of one cup.” –St. Paul
I think one of the main reasons I haven’t particularly liked past conversations with peers who had a lot of things to say against “the Church” is because their objections seemed to be entangled in the rantings of a self-righteousness person (which is ironic).
It is another story when you realize years and years later that you are the one who ended up with the church wounds and you yourself have need of someone to bind them.
I walked outside the library the other day and bore witness to the librarian telling this group of kids to turn off their profane music they were blasting. These kids looked so weird so instead of walking home I took a seat on the brick wall just to see if I’d end up talking to any of them. This one kid named Robert approached me after chasing his friend who had run off with his bike and told me quite frankly that his cat died. “Can I get a hug?” “Sure.” I said.
I started talking with him more (just about his life and then ended up sharing w him some of my own journey with self-hood and God and coming in contact with Jesus) and he started telling me about how he’s been visiting every church he can think to go to. “Yeah, Ive checked out Ebenezer, Lifepoint, Horizon’s, and I most recently got kicked out of Mt. Ararat.”
“Oh yeah, what happened?” I asked him. “I don’t know, I guess I just started causing trouble. But I know what it really was. They didn’t want to deal with me. They had their 5 step plan for the guy hooked on porn, but my issues weren’t something they had a small group for.”
He said what he was gonna do now was to go find a temple or some epic building that was a sanctuary just for him and God. “Because the way I see it; churches are like a subscription. Pay 9.99 a month and you walk away with some thing that you want, but it’s basically a business, I think..”
I couldn’t detect any of the old cynicism I used to detest in some of my peers who would rag about the church this and the church that (and it was all very negative and aimless). As I now think about my talk with the kid outside the library, I’m pretty grateful for it, because it helped me recognize the hopelessness (and maybe some bitterness too) which has secretly dwelt in my heart concerning the institution of church.
I left the conversation with genuine compassion for this kid and a curiosity to study the obligatory relationship the Christian has with “the Church”. Is it possible to be united with Christ and permissibly reject the Church? Or in other words, Can I experience intimacy with Christ free from any involvement with a “church body”?
For someone who spent significant years in a chamber of cult activity I am realizing how long a journey it is to recover and heal from that, especially when you aren’t willing to altogether abandon Jesus. It can be somewhat of a shell-shock to enter in to church culture after having been so heavily immersed in a cult setting.
My hopeful desire to find refuge in the safety of my own private quarry was recently disturbed by haunting thoughts concerning the sacraments. (most of which were inspired as I haphazardly began delving into Martin Luther’s treatise on the subject of communion)
Martin Luther begins the treatise describing Christ’s decision to set apart unto the world a Church; a church which offers the weary sinner a chance to partake of Christ’s body and blood. By doing so the church thus commits itself to be a place of common profit and common loss; a place where love unites all.
It is like a city where every citizen shares with all the others the name, honor, freedom, trade, customs, usages, help, support, protection and the like, of that city, and on the other hand shares all the danger of fire and flood, enemies and death, losses, imposts and the like.
He writes that through the offering of communion one may receive not only a reminder of Christ’s eternal love, but assurance of our victory in the midst of adversity, which we are assured of all the more as we partake of communion alongside our fellow man (to whom Christ has also bestowed such victory). It is as if, through this sacrament, He has whispered to our hearts “Therefore, be bold and confident; thou tightest not alone; great help and support are round about thee.” (ML)
I found myself eagerly soaking up the ideas aforementioned which give some sort of potential explanation of Christ’s decision to establish a Church on Earth. The ideas themselves reach out to those deep longings of the human soul. However, the hopelessness I’ve felt concerning finding healing in the church can’t be erased by idealism.
In future posts I will further explore the questions and ideas included in this one.