Head First: Where I went to church this Sunday.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Where I went to church this Sunday.

I received an email yesterday from someone I care deeply about who is starting to talk about her own dissatisfaction with organized religion. Parts of my reply echoed some recent posts:

"I don't know what the solution is, but for me, Church is going fishing with my friend, or getting together with some online friends and raising over $4,000 for an orphanage in eastern Europe, or going for a long motorcycle ride in the country with my daughter, or discussing God with a buddy over a beer. The kingdom of God is measured by our relationships, not our attendance at a weekly meeting. I find it ironic that religious people are often the first to break relationship when someone disagrees with them or fails to live up to their standard of performance. Didn't Jesus say that people would know his disciples by their love for others? I guess He was right."

Maybe I'm more aware of it because I tend to work alone in my job, but I just love getting together with my friends. I wish I could fully articulate the sense of connection I experience when we're together. I know a lot of people hate the word "fellowship," but for me, it's rich with meaning. Look up "fellow." It alludes to our shared interest and the common ground between us. Shaking hands in a crowd with someone you barely know is not fellowship. The most profound sort of friendship, a deeper element of relating occurs with the understanding that we have partaken of similar experience, to become "fellows" with one another.

It is in that sense that I refer to "my Church." That sense of fellowship to which Jesus referred when he said:
"I've told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I'm no longer calling you servants because servants don't understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I've named you friends because I've let you in on everything I've heard from the Father." (John 15:11-15, The Message)

It's the idea that "I've let you in on everything," that makes such friendship so dear. "I'm no longer calling you servants," or, in other words, "I don't base your value on what you can do for me. In fact, I value your life above my own."

Man, that's hardcore.

Anyway, I started this post to tell you about the awesome bike rally I went to on Sunday with my friend, Paul (I wish I had taken a camera, sorry). There were somewhere between 1800-2200 bikes on a gorgeous 65-mile run through the still-gardeny part of the Garden State. We had a great time riding, talking, hanging out. The weather was perfect, and the countryside was magnificent. The whole earth, indeed, declared the glory of the Lord. It was the best church I've been to since, well, my fishing trip the week before.


Kc said...

I knew you'd never break fellowship! I really am thankful you're doing so well both physically and spiritually. ;-)

Scott said...

65 mile bike rally as in wow that's a long way to pedal or as in brrrm brrrm my but hurts and there are bugs in my teeth sort of rally?

I prefer the pedaling kind of worship myself...you sort of sweat the sin out.

seƱor jefe said...

My brother's turned into such a biker: boots, helmet, vest, sunglasses, leather...

On second thought, he may be turning into a "village people"... yikes!

(not that there's anything wrong with that... ahem)

sandytrif said...

I kind of have a small problem with you saying you were at church. The definition of church (from an internet search) is:
1. building for public-esp. Christians
2. community of believers headed by Jesus
3. a. A company of all Christians reguarded as a spiritual body
b. specified Christian denomination ie Catholic.
4. Public devine worship in a chruch; religious service.
5. Those who accept and practice a particular religious belief.

Maybe that last one is what you are referring to--you were a group of people who practice a particular religious belief that riding cycles is a great time. Was Jesus mentioned or pointed out to others??

I think that you had communion rather than church.
Communion: 1. the act or an instance of sharing, as of thoughts or feelings (cycle riding in this case)
2.religious or spiritual fellwoship
3. a body of christians w/common religious faith who practice the same rights.
4. mutual participation.
You certainly shared 1 and 4.
I would agree you had fellowship:
1. condition of sharing similar interests, ideals, or experiences.
2. companionship of individuals in a congenial and or equal terms.
3. close association of friends or equals sharing similar interests
4. friendship
But church? I don't know. What are you actually looking for in church (C or c)? Are just looking for a group of friends who share the same belief and have some sort of fellowship--and perhaps it is centered on Christ at some point? It that is what you are looking for--wouldn't this small gathering soon grow because it is so cool and things are happening that I want to bring my friends along and what? are we having church(C or c)?
I just read psalm 27: 4. One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple
I know I'll get flack from many here, but hey I am a really really stupid church attender.

dorsey said...

Sandy, we're clearly on different pages in our definition of church, but I promise you I didn't get mine from the dictionary.

The way I read scripture, whenever two or more believers get together, it's Church. If you come to my house for dinner, we're the Church. The dictionary definitions only reflect what the culture has come to expect the church to be. Those definitions are erroneous.

I love the verse from Psalms that you quoted, but I think you have to recognize the poetic nature of the passage. Otherwise, how do you reconcile David's desire to dwell IN God's temple with Jesus' assertion that WE ARE God's temple?

BruceD said...

I like that, Dorse... I'll take the genuine sharing of life and love over a contrived event intended to fulfill a religious obligation, anytime!

The dictionary captures a moment in time, and creates a snapshot of what "church" has become, but that doesn't mean it's right. It just means that's what it is.

There's a lot of real life out there, if we will just let ourselves see it. But, we seem to be more focused on following our perception of "obedience" rather than experiencing Life with God.

Many will disagree, and that's OK. To each his own. All I know is what "I'm drawn to" and what "I'm repulsed from". I listen to my heart and it speaks more and more clearly to me.

sandytrif said...

dorse, actually you pointed me to look up "fellow". I just looked up other words as well. What if a word fits your definition~it is ok??
Where is the verse where Jesus says we are the temple?? I honestly got out Strong's concordence and looked up every reference where temple was used in the new testament-most scriptures pointed out that Jesus went a lot to the temple to teach. He refered to himself as the temple when he said he would destroy the temple and rebuild it in 3 days. It is in 1st Corrinthian 3:16 that says we are God's temple and if we destroy the temple God will destroy us. (not red letter)
I need scripture and verse!
Have fun at church err I mean nascar this week end.
Thanks for making me dig deeper in the Bible.

dorsey said...

If there were a scriptural definition of "fellow" that contradicted the dictionary definition, I'd go with the scriptural definition. Same goes for "church."

I misspoke earlier. It was Paul, not Jesus, who said that your body is the temple. Jesus said that He would destroy and rebuild a temple not made by man. Couple that statement with His claim that He would build His Church upon the rock of Peter's confession, and it's pretty clear that "Church" refers to neither a building nor a non-profit corporation.

But hey, if it makes you feel better to think that God lives in a building, knock yourself out.

SocietyVs said...

"I need scripture and verse!" (Sandy)

Don't we all. But merely quoting scripture does little good because we all read the same bible. Now if you come with the assumption the church is a building, there is some truth to that (I mean they had to call their gatherings in homes something). But Dorse's definiton is more honest to the way the bible actually teaches about 'church' or the 'the body of Christ'. We are the church, and we can build a church (just a building) but we put it together and make it useful. I think if they called the church a building I could agree since the real church gathers in the building and in society (for example at Nascar races) or do we no longer represnt the body of Christ at that point? I think we continue to be in Christ and of Christ no matter where we hang out. Then again I could be wrong.

SocietyVs said...

"A company of all Christians reguarded as a spiritual body" (a defnition of church from the dictionary)

Isn't this what Dorse did, spend his time in the company of others?

sandytrif said...

never said church was a building. I truly feel more along the lines of church being a community of believers. But I have to think that Jesus thought enough about going to the temple or church that we as christians should think about it as well. If church was not important why even establish a church with Peter as a head?
Back to the food analagy of a few posts back-I tend to think of church as an appetizer or even the dessert and my daily reading as the food. Mid-week or whatever day side dish.

shelly said...

never said church was a building

But when you posted the dictionary definition of church...

The definition of church (from an internet search) is:
1. building for public-esp. Christians
2. community of believers headed by Jesus
3. a. A company of all Christians reguarded as a spiritual body
b. specified Christian denomination ie Catholic.
4. Public devine worship in a chruch; religious service.
5. Those who accept and practice a particular religious belief.


But I have to think that Jesus thought enough about going to the temple or church that we as christians should think about it as well.

While, yes, he did go to the synagogue every week, I don't necessarily recall him telling his followers they needed to do the same.

In Acts, the early Church didn't meet in the temple; they hung out at each other's houses and had meals together.

Later on, Paul told the Ephesians (?) "not to forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as some are in the manner of doing"; but even then, Paul didn't say that "the assembling of yourselves together" had to be done in a traditional church setting.

Yet, in the present day, Christians in general have interpreted the latter reference as meaning one had to be in church for every service; and (IMO, at least), Paul never said that.

sandytrif said...

re read Acts 44-47 Everyday they continued to meet in the temple courts.

Hey I was just relating what the dictionary said. Not what I believed.

societyvs: you left out company of Christians-or did I miss that part.


dorsey said...

I'm not sure what you're saying. The Church in Jerusalem met in the temple courts, but that's the only temple there was. What about the Church in Corinth, or Rome, or Athens? There were no temples there. From the birth of the church up through 323 A.D., the Church met in homes, and often in secret, to avoid persecution. Many in the church lived communally, but I don't hear too many people advocating that.

I think we've strayed from the original issue which is the definition of the Church. I maintain that the Church is simply all believers. It doesn't matter if they get together as a large group in an organized fashion or casually in a group of two or three. I don't see where scripture mandates that there must be a meeting with worship songs and a sermon in order to call it church. That's just what we've made it. I don't particularly object to it as a means of assembly. What bugs me is saying that this is how the Bible says to do it. It's not.

Kc said...

Good discussion here Dorse.

Sandy I believe Christ is the head of the Church, not Peter. ;-)

sandytrif said...

what does the Bible say church is to be/do?

SocietyVs said...

"what does the Bible say church is to be/do?" (Sandy)

Hahahaha...read my blog and I'll give you a great answer. Basically the church is the 'body of Christ' (which means we are to be like Christ?). Is the church even remotely like Christ or is it more like some historical perspective we added on? The church should be something it is currently not, I will leave it at that.

Jason Dawson said...

Good post I'd say the only thing I'd consider would be to consider "The Body" and the piece of the body you represent as you participate often alone outside of the body having autonomous church.

dorsey said...

The whole point of this is that I'm NOT operating alone. Church, for me, is fellowship with other believers, whether we're motorcycling, or fishing, or whatever. Some of the people I spend time with attend church regularly, some don't, but it doesn't make us any less the Church. The "mandate" to meet weekly in a building and do a bunch of rituals is becoming a greater mystery to me.

George said...

To reopen the “what is church?” subject – God first established “church” in the Garden of Eden. To begin to further reveal the coming and typology of the Messiah, he was the general contractor for the Tabernacle. Next, the temple was established symbolizing the dwelling place of God representing God’s presence on earth. Jesus foresaw the destruction of the temple and told how it would be raised again not with human hands. Following Christ’s resurrection, God deliberately set up the earthly church partly for the physical gathering of His followers and partly to symbolize the Bride of Christ who is being prepared for her Bridegroom (“Let us rejoice and be glad, …For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready”.) The physical “church” obviously serves a Godly purpose as the body of Christ with the Holy Spirit appointing teachers, preachers, elders, deacons, etc. to perform specific roles of preparing the Bride for her wedding day. Granted, Jesus is the “head” of the church body and is the ideal model. Unfortunately, we fleshly types can botch our God given roles and have a “head” that is not functioning, as it should, sending the whole body askew.
Scripture also places great emphasis on observing a weekly Sabbath, not for His benefit, but for ours. He foresaw our busyness, sin, and distractions, and set aside a specific time for us to remember Him. If following the model in Acts of singing, praise, and scripture, I suppose two or more is enough to “do church”.
Do we have to go to church? I guess not. As Paul says in 1 Cor 10, “Everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial.” Not being under the law, the choices we make are permissible, but don’t benefit us, and we lose.

dorsey said...

Um, thanks, I guess, George. I like the analogies that scripture draws, describing the church as "like a bride." But scripture refers to Jerusalem, the Holy City as the actual bride of Christ. And I think it's a mistake to ascribe intent to God (regarding the temple an the sabbath) where scripture doesn't specifically assign it.

Regards to Brother Hagee.