On The Outside Looking In.
Six years ago, the fundamentalist church I grew up in imploded. Since then I've been an orphan, wandering from church to church, trying to find my way home. I just don't know how to get there.
I have an evangelical's love for Gospel preachin', a fundamentalist's desire to live a holy life, a Presbyterian appreciation for Reformed theology and a Catholic reverence for the Eucharist and sanctity of human life.
Am I messed up, or what? LOL!
And yet, somehow, I am all those things: an evangelical who doesn't use the Pill, a Catholic who finds many answers in tradition and a Presbyterian who loves expository preaching.
So where do I fit in?
I've had fellow Christians tell me I'll never find The True Church. It doesn't exist, they say. At least, not physically. The True Church only exists spiritually. The advice I hear most often is: find what suits you best. It's almost like: you'll never find Mr. Right. So, just look for Mr. Right Now.
But I'm unsettled by this subjective definition of Church. If The True Church doesn't exist physically, then isn't all church-going just a matter of personal preference? If it's all purely spiritual--why bother attending a mere place at all?
And why would Jesus leave us with only a spiritual church? We are, after all, physical beings with bodies. We're not angels. We are bound by time and space. And while faith is unseen, the works of faith are visible. Why not Christ's Church?
I can only imagine how confusing it must be for a new Christian to decide which church to attend. Christians are divided intothousands of sects, denominations, non-denominations, home groups, meet-under-an-oak-tree-in-my-backyard "churches." Every Christian group has reasons for dividing from other Christian groups. Good reasons. Thousands of reasons.
How in the world does someone decide? Even if I use the "look for Mr. Right Now" approach, I could spend an entire lifetime searching for what best suits me.
There's the rub.
I don't want finding the right church to be about me! I want it to be about Jesus!
*Waaaahhh---arrrrghh---waaah!* That's me weeping and gnashing my teeth! ;-)
OK, so if I had to pick just ONE thing that is an essential, non-negotiable issue (excluding basic doctrines about Christ & the Trinity, etc.) it would be Communion/The Lord's Table/The Eucharist. I need Communion like a thirsty man needs water. If I attend a church meeting and there is no celebration of the Lord's Supper, I leave feeling incomplete. Unfinished. Like something very important is missing.
I'm beginning to think that what a Christian believes about The Eucharist defines everything else. To be more precise, how the elements are defined (literal body and blood or just a "symbol") and how often the congregation partakes (once a week, once a month, once a year) sets the foundation for every other doctrine and practice.
Of course, this is based on my own very unscientific research. I'm just sharing my thoughts, here. I'm no theologian, so feel free to jump in and correct me. It is entirely possible that I'm getting hung up on a non-essential issue.
I do not officially "belong" anywhere, but I do have Jesus. He has promised never to leave or forsake me. That knowledge gives me great comfort. It keeps the weeping and gnashing at bay.
But sometimes, and especially at Christmas, the loss of a church-home is more keenly felt.
I want to belong. I want to come in from the cold.
I want to come home.
[Where do you call home? Why? What is it about your church that you love? Do you think The Lord's Supper/Communion/The Eucharist are important or non-essential? WHY? Share, debate, discuss.]