Showing Up To Church – Why bother…? Reason #1: It’s God’s Idea
Well, having got the ball rolling with the last post, here’s a swipe at the first reason – in my mind – for why it’s worth showing up and being part of church.
First of all – for the record – I am absolutely, totally and definitely in favour of re-thinking and re-imagining what it means to be church. It is great being part of the Anglican Diocese here in Tassie where the encouragement from our bishop is to re-imagine church in whatever ways God leads us to, so as to become God’s missionary people.
I’m not arguing in favour of unquestioningly committing to church as we’ve always known it per se, but I am arguing in favour of deliberately and intentionally giving ourselves to a local expression of church where we really believe we can contribute and serve and make a difference. I am absolutely in favour of committing to church which is doing all that is humanly possible to be church the way God intended it to be…
Which brings me to the first reason why it is totally worth showing up to church: Church is God’s idea – he absolutely thinks it’s worth getting stuck in to.
God’s whole plan and purpose from the beginning of time has been to have a group of people, a clan, a tribe, a community – who he can call his own. A group of people to love, to be in close relationship with, and who in turn will worship him, and follow him, and show the rest of the world what ‘life the way God intended it to be’ actually looks like.
And that community, today in 2012, is the church. It is us – the people of God – called, chosen, loved, made new, and imbued with purpose.
Leslie Newbigin, who was an amazing missionary, minister and theologian, wrote:
“It is surely a fact of inexhaustible significance that what our Lord left behind Him was not a book, nor a creed, nor a system of thought, nor a rule of life, but a visible community.” (Newbigin 1953, The Household of God, p20)
Jesus, in his short three years of ministry on earth, called and chose really ordinary, flawed, unlikely human beings, and built deep, transforming, selfless relationships with them. They spent three years sharing life together – eating, drinking, travelling, talking, laughing, crying, arguing, getting told-off, forgiving, and showing and demonstrating that the Kingdom of God was near. And then Jesus gave them his Holy Spirit and left them to it. He commissioned them to do it all over again, all over the world. And they did. And they changed the world.
Church at its best, church as Jesus intended it to be, is the idea of a committed community of really ordinary, flawed, unlikely human beings, who centre their lives around Jesus, who share their lives with one another, who commit themselves fully to Jesus and to becoming more and more like him.
Church, as Jesus intended it to be, is a community of Jesus-followers, who laugh and cry together, who argue and forgive together, who learn and grow together, who eat and drink together, who accept each others weaknesses – together, who encourage and build each other up – together, who support and pray for each other – together, and who experience and understand and announce and demonstrate the reality of the Kingdom of God… together.
And church – the called, chosen, loved, redeemed, spirit-filled, purpose-filled people of God, are the continuation of that very same story. The church, the people of God, are God’s plan to change the world.
God’s idea – church – absolutely includes us and our small communities, with the other unlikely, flawed, ordinary, saved, loved, redeemed human beings God has called us to commit to sharing our lives with.
Here in Launceston, with our network of uni and college students, and our small yet growing and flourishing community at Barney’s, we’re having a go at being faithful to God’s calling to be church. We’re certainly flawed, we get things wrong, and we have plenty of really ordinary people. But Jesus loved each one of these really ordinary people enough to give his life up for them. And the life he has given me… I want to spend it giving it up for them too.
Is it worth showing up?