Encountering God at a Funeral

When my grandmother passed away earlier this year, all of the male grandchildren and great grandchildren were asked to be pallbearers.  This was my first time as a pallbearer so I was not sure what to expect.  What if the casket is too heavy or if it drops.  I think these are normal thoughts that go through a person’s mind, but maybe not.

Well, all of the pallbearers were sitting together and you could see various stages of emotions cross their faces.  I often wonder what other people are thinking.  I could blindly assume we all think the same way, but that is ignorant and being that I am not very close to that side of my family, I am never really sure what they think.

The service was really nice.  There had been tension between the children on how everything should go, so there ended up being two pastors who spoke.  The first one was my father’s pastor, whom I knew, and the other one was the pastor at the church where my grandmother attended.  I say it like that as most of my family is Baptist, but they are going through a common stage where they are looking for something “more” spiritually.

I liked the Baptist pastor a lot.  I have never met the man before, but he was passionate and had a connection to God.  It was during his speech that I heard him talk about my grandmother’s faith.  She was devoted to church, but she had prayed everyday for her family.  I knew she had prayed, but no clue about the extent of her prayer life.  While I was sitting there, I was pulled out of my thoughts when I heard the young pastor talk about how she prayed for family and specifically one of them who never believed in God but had since turned their life over and was now saved.

That hit home with me as that is my story, but I had never talked to the pastor before so I figured he was talking about my uncle.  It was odd to hear that, but it reaffirmed that God works through prayer.

After the funeral, family and friends went to the local community center and ate and had fellowship with each other.  I questioned to my dad about what was said and he did not recall hearing that.  When I was able to speak to the young pastor about that portion of his sermon, he denied having said anything like that.

I was positive that I heard that being said, but with the pastor denying saying it, I knew it was the work of the Holy Spirit.    What I heard was meant for me and spoken by God.  Now it came through the voice of the pastor, at least as far I could tell, but I know God was letting me know that He had been present in my life since the beginning and that others have been praying for salvation since birth.

The feeling I got from that was and is still overwhelming.

Leaving Churchanity

It is time for a rant.

I am tired of the church.

I wish there was a better way to express it, but that is the main thought that keeps running through my head. It is not that I do not like my church or the people in it. As people we are all flawed, so I am not expecting any more from them then what I can deliver myself.

Also, I am not leaving God. Nor I am renouncing Jesus. I still know that Jesus is God, so I am not converting to some strange new doctrine. I love the people at my church, but it is this new flavor of Christianity that I am bombarded with that leaves me feeling so weary.

Part of this was my own fault. I loved taking classes and studying to learn about God. I wanted more knowledge and a greater understanding for selfish reasons. It did not seem selfish at the time, but I was looking for my accomplishments to satisfy needs within myself that I was not addressing. It hurts a bit to admit that, but you have to admit it so you can move on. It is ok to be a Christian and be wrong.

I am not sure if that is a scary statement or not. I know it scares some people, because what if what we are wrong about is the teachings that we have been giving to others that have inadvertently led people away from Christ or even just in the wrong direction? Wouldn’t you think there might be some repercussion from being wrong and the effects that it had on others? What happened with Moses overstepped his authority? He was left outside of the Promised Land. God did not stop loving him, but he was not able to go an partake of the goodness of God. Ok, maybe it was just in the physical realm. We know, or at least it was suggested, that God and Satan were fighting over his body. Maybe Satan misunderstood what God did by keeping Moses out.

What makes it harder is that I have no interest to read the Bible or pray. I still pray, but it is usually after I cannot stand to ignore God any longer. My prayer life has been changing and I am not in a place of security in it anymore. Call it part of growing, but the uncertainty is not what I enjoy.

An interesting aspect of this experience that I am going through has made me see more of what Calvinist holds to. The Holy Spirit will NOT leave me alone. I am grateful for this, but to know there is this much of a tug going on within myself, I do not see how other people who have been saved are able to withdraw from God’s presence and not feel a void. Maybe they do, but just do not express it. I would like to think that is true and maybe it would explain why so many people are depressed. I still believed in free will and our ability to choose however, so I am not switching to Calvinism.

All of this is in part why I have been absent from writing lately, as I do not know what I all I need to say and I don’t want to post just to make a quota. I feel like I need to say something though.

So where do I begin?

I am not sure when Christianity thought that being political was the best way to “get people saved”. Regardless of which group you are listening to at the moment, it seems like they are all twisting the actions of Jesus or the writings in the New Testament to support their cause. I get why they do this, because we all want to be right. To be a Christian should mean that you, at some level, want to follow Christ. It should mean this, but I think it honestly is more of a case of people not wanting to go to hell these days.

This is not that they are bad people, but they honestly start to look more like what we imagine the Pharisees to have been like during the time of Christ. Let’s impose laws so that we are made to be “good”. We can ban those things that are “sinful” and then we become good people who are following Jesus since we are not doing the bad things. This legalism does not benefit anyone but Satan because it keeps us from talking about what needs to be talked about and expressing the honest feelings that we have,
We get weary and just do not want to do it anymore.

Christianity is not about voting for or against health insurance for all. Christianity is not about voting for or against same sex marriage. Christianity is not about how the government spends money. Christianity is not about what songs you sing or what clothes you wear. It is not about equal rights or equal pay. Christianity is not about social justice. That statement makes Christianity sound harsh, but that is the reality of it.

When did you ever hear Jesus talking about freeing the slaves or making the roman government, or any government, change and operate on Christian principles? Jesus never made speeches that said all people have a right to be happy or to do what they want to do. Jesus never said it was going to be fair.

Western society is trying to shape itself into a secular version of right and wrong. It is establishing its own little kingdom and people are told to embrace it. Western society is becoming its own false religion and the church seems to be embracing it, because it sounds similar to what we are told that Christianity says and requires little thought to follow. In fact, there cannot be a lot of thought if you want to follow it.

Theology has moved from being something we learn to understand what God is trying to say and it has been replaced with this weapon in which we attack each other. We use it to beat each other over the head to prove our point. I do this myself, so I am just as guilt as many others. Now that I am stopping and looking around though, I see that grace and mercy are often missing from what I am saying. It might be truthful, but it is also hurtful. I am not going to change my stance on issues, as I feel they are correct to the very core of my being, but I don’t have to defend them all of the time.

I need to remember what it is to love those around us.

People misrepresent Jesus as being all above love and nothing about the Law. Yes Jesus loved the sinners that were around Him. That is why they flocked to Him. He accepted them as children gone astray and they felt the love of God through Jesus. Yes, He told them to go and sin no more, but that is not what he led off with. It is anyone’s guess as to how soon in the conversation that He said that, but it was most likely not in the first few minutes.

We see that Jesus transformed Matthew’s life in what appears to be one night. What a great testimony to the love of God. What about all of those other people that left His side though, when things did not go how they wanted it to? These people surely heard Jesus say don’t sin anymore, so there was not a misunderstanding about Jesus living a life that was sin free. True, it did not meet religious standards, but we are told that Jesus fulfilled the law, so there was no blemish on him.

So what does that mean my life should look like?

Grace is a tough thing to get back to from being law focused. With grace, I don’t have to “be right” on a position. I can state what I know to be true, but prevent it from becoming an argument. That is my choice. I can talk to others about how they feel without having to say that aspects of their life are wrong. If I live the standard that Jesus holds to, then He will make the change in them and it is no longer an issue of me trying to do God’s work for him.

Not sure how the posts will look in the future, but I know this is the direction that I must go. I have been sidetracked on my own agenda for too long. Now, it is time to love.