“Church shopping is great and everyone who takes seriously the call to follow Christ should do it. I think critiquing the church you’re in is important and working to improve our community and how we serve one another is important.
But when it comes to church shopping, or analysing our own church and its practices, we ask the wrong questions.
The primary question is not “will this church meet my needs” or “is this church meeting my needs?”
It should be
“am I willing to give myself to the cause for which this church exists?”
The beauty of God’s salvation isn’t found in the individual but rather it is the divine community reestablishing a human community with a new way of living and a renewed relationship with God which is founded on his love, this is what Jesus calls his church.
“We have caught the vision of Jesus for the world as it could be – and as it one day will be – and so we are activists motivated not only by religious fervour or an ideology of justice – but by love and it is this love that makes measurable transformation something we yearn for. We don’t want to be right – to have good ideas, to be able to talk good justice smack or even to stand for the good things in solidarity with people who are copping it from society. We want to be a part of seeing the renewal of all things increase moment by moment, person by person, community by community. We want to be part of more than learning why justice is a gospel thing – we want to be a part of seeing the peace, justice, grace and welcome of Jesus become a lived experience of more people. “
When you are an example of the way the world could be – generous, selfless, forgiving, welcoming, compassionate – everything around you begins to become better too. You widen the crack and let in more light, the darkness begins to retreat and you bring hope to people who were on the path to giving up. You begin to show people that the future of this world is not death, destruction and violence – but healing, renewal and love.
“Jesus’ life was a picture of the way the world could be – it was absent greed, bereft of the desire for status or control over others. He included rather than excluded, he raised people up instead of trying to raise himself up, he risked his reputation, profile and personal safety for the sake of showing love and acceptance to people, he healed, loved, taught this new way of being, he neglected to personally profit from his growing profile – he was not only talking about the way the world could be a better place he was calling it into being by living as a tangible example of it. Jesus not only complained about the greed, corruption and brokenness of the system, updating his Facebook status in disgust at our broken world, he was a living protest against the system by publicly demonstrating how things could be different.”
“Joy isn’t happiness. Joy isn’t the absence of sadness, grief or depression. Joy isn’t pretending everything is ok when it really isn’t. CS Lewis called joy “the experience of an inconsolable longing” and “the experience of an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction” The experience of an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. That rings true with my experience of joy. An inconsolable longing that is never fully satisfied but without which I would be lost, broken, alone and spiritually destitute.”