This week in church we talked about purpose.
Specifically, we talked about the purpose of church. An old dude was quoted as saying that "Church is the only institution that exists for the benefit of those who are not members." This is because churches are SUPPOSED to be about taking care of others: feeding and clothing the poor, welcoming outsiders, and all that jazz.
I don't think church actually does that very well, to be honest. Not just my church, but churches, in general. Some are certainly better than others, bigger ones tend to have a lot of ministries and programs, but overall, I think most people go to church for themselves (I do), and most church services promote a bit of an inward-focus.
It made me wonder: would I be better off if I stopped attending church and spent that time volunteering somewhere instead? Not only would I be doing a better job of serving the actual purpose of church, but I'm pretty sure I might actually feel more spiritually satisfied.
This week in church we talked about costly love.
"If it hurts and it's inconvenient and you don't really like it, you're probably on to something."
This is true of a lot of things, and was presented as being both true of the sacrifices needed to get in shape and to enact self-giving love.
On one hand, self-giving love will certainly feel that way from time to time. Just like when I force myself to do more jumping lunges (stupid jumping lunges), I remind myself that I want the strength that comes from them, when I get miserable from some act of sacrifice for someone else I can remind myself of the love that motivates it. It will still be annoying and stupid, but it will also have meaning.
On the other hand, this reminds me a lot of those stories I heard as a child in church that basically amounted to, "God is going to require you to do the one thing you desperately don't want to do and you'll have to give up your entire life and everything you love to do so." This generally came from missionaries' stories about how God called them to the one country they didn't want to go to, or something like that. These stories were always told with a chuckle at God's sense of humour.
Oh yeah, so funny! Hey, I'm God, I'm going to send this person who loves me and wants to follow me directly into their deepest fear! HAHAHAHA!
What this taught me, as a child, was that if I truly put myself in God's hands, he would make me give up everything I loved and do something that would make me miserable, because it's FUNNY and because God clearly doesn't want us to be happy.
Anyways, I realize that there is a middle ground here where we recognize the value of doing things that make us uncomfortable and sacrifice of ourselves for a greater purpose and becoming missionaries in the desert where there are no theatres or friends.
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