“I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me.”
The weather is heating back up, so I brought tidings of iced tea lemonade instead of my staple Earl Grey. These every changing weather patterns are drawing my mind back to some pesky people who exist in almost every church congregation.
Let me make one thing about myself quite clear: I am a Christian woman. I am saved by grace through faith, and I have a personal relationship with my Savior. As a Christian woman, I know I have responsibilities and a reputation to upkeep that I regularly fall short on. I am not perfect, and I don’t spend much of my time striving to be. I’m a human and a sinner. I am perfectly aware that I am still spiritually immature as I am probably emotionally immature. Heck, I am just 18 after all. Upon further reflection, I can see my spiritual flaws and what I lack just as easily if I were to look in a mirror and see my physical flaws. A little extra fat here, a lack of prayer, some forehead blemishes, and a dire need to study my bible. Understand me when I say that I know I have work to do.
One thing that is synonymous with being a Christian (especially in the South) is church attendance. If you’ve lived her for any given time, you’ve probably been invited and may have attended as a guest at some establishment rather is be Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, or etc. Church is a wonderful opportunity to fellowship and meet with other Christians and study God’s word. You get to hear a more in-depth view of certain biblical passages, and it helps me to understand some of the more obscure meanings of verses. It’s an experience that I highly recommend to all who want to know more about Christianity. However, many young and old Christians are often mislead about church; some see it as a necessity rather than a personal choice. I hold no authority as a Christian, but it is my belief that is isn’t true.
My Christian faith is based on my PERSONAL relationship with God. I study his word and empty my heart to him in prayer on my own time, and I feel him working in my life in ways that no one else can see. But without those weekly congregations, I still know where I stand. Growing up where I did, I can see that this is not a popular belief. Church is sacred and is often believed to be another gateway into heaven. Some go as far as to claim that not attending will result in eternal damnation. This is not a belief I share. Judgement seems to be cast down upon those “non-regulars” who for some reason, decided not to attend that specific week, and I believe that this can hinder a young or old Christian just as surely as seeing a fellow self-acclaimed Christian acting in an atrocious manner. We talk of “stumbling blocks” in church, and people who harp on church attendance to the point of decreasing others’ will to come to church are guilty of being one.
With age comes the realization that everyone has different ways of doing and handling things. Some are introverted, some extroverted. Some can teach themselves, some need to be guided. Some are more perceptively fluid, some are stubborn and refuse to change anything. Whether you’re this or that, you do things differently than the person sitting beside you. Being a Christian is no different. I personally am rather introverted, so I shy away from occasions with large crowds (which church events can quickly turn in to), so my relationship with God is no different. When I first became saved, I mainly depended on the support of my friends and church family to guide me. I prayed with them more than I did by myself, and I used the preacher’s sermons to further my knowledge of the word. Now that I am older, I’ve developed a more one-on-one relationship with God, and I don’t always feel as close to him in a sanctuary with 50+ other people. Now, I feel closer with him when I’m studying alone in my dorm room, or holed up in my home bedroom on Friday nights. My tears don’t fall in prayer on Sunday mornings when I know there are young children staring at my face or old men have dozed off in the pews; they fall in my car rides on my way to and from school as I talk to God about all that has been bothering me. Despite being rather introverted, I also tend to be rather rebellious. (Translation: I like proving people wrong.) And no, I haven’t found someone whose gone to heaven and had an interview (sorry), but I have surrounded myself with friends that agree with me and are excellent cases in my favor. Several of my dearest friends are some of those pesky “non-regulars” that are so plotted against by so many, yet they are some of the most God-fearing, spiritually sound people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. They may not attend a church every week, but they spend hours burrowed in their bibles and countless times with their heads bowed in prayer. One friend in particular, (let’s call her Lynn) is one of the few people my age that I look up to and admire. Her spiritual maturity is an inspiration to me, and I hope to one day be as humble and scriptural-learned as she is today. So, when I look over and see her and all her Christian kindness, I become more firm in my belief that church attendence is not directly correlated with my admittance to heaven.
If I’ve given you anything with my ramblings, take away this: every Christian is different, and has a different way of expressing their faith. Other than the commands given in the bible, there are no rules to how you choose to worship God. Being a Christian is no easy feat. With your title comes a platform that you didn’t ask for. You stand upon that platform for all to see and all to judge, and you’re told to use that platform to represent the life of a saved believer. Taking advantage of that platform to tear down and hinder other saved believer is wrong, and reflects badly upon you and Christianity as a whole. Figure out how you feel closer with God, and stick to your guns. You will undoubtedly face attacks and some may even be fellow Christians, but it’s important that you don’t let them be a hindrance unto you.
“Peace I leave with you; peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.”
Sincerely (and God Bless),