If it wasn't so painful, I'd think it funny that yesterday I posted on how I love my church and love the fun and BBQs it has.
And it was probably one of the best after church BBQs I've been to. Canopies provided shade, there was more than enough food, plenty of lemonade and water, and the array of desserts was spectacular! (which is always the best part) They even had Bocca burgers for the vegetarians.
What is not to love? Did I mention the amazing deserts?
I love my church because it is a good church; my kids enjoy it and are tangibly loved there, by so many people. I have friends, my church supports various ministries and encourages involvement in many wonderful ministries, both inside and outside the church walls. Today's music was great; I knew and loved nearly all the songs, the transitions flowed well, (we did sing one song that we sang the previous week too but this time it was a much better rendition of it) As usual, the message was unflinchingly straight from God's word, which is the one thing I prize in my church over all these other niceties that I consider icing on the cake. The "main event", for me, is the message and I tend to love my pastor's presentation of it, faithfulness in preaching from the Bible and his insight.
Except today. (now yesterday)
The Scripture was 1 Corinthians 8 and I though I knew what to expect. I had read it earlier that week and concluded that I really wish Paul hadn't left it up for us to decide for ourselves but had some good 'ole concrete rules to follow. I also concluded that in the end, it all comes down to love, so no surprise when my pastor came up with 4 things: Love trumps all, Do only what pleases the one true God (v. 4-6), Don't assume we all play by the same rules (v. 7, 8) And the final rule: See Rule number one: Love Trumps All.
This all just hits a bit too close to home for me, as he also brought up 3 wrong responses to how we respond: 1. Spiritual Piety (Legalistic..... I can't do that) 2. Spiritual Power (pharisaical...."I'm glad I'm not like that.") and 3. Trying to be the Holy Spirit. ("You can't do that"... guilt)
The odd thing about this case for Freedom in Christ and not to be "spiritually constipated" is that I don't feel that most in my church struggle with the issue of being free in Christ. Except...... me. I'm so guilty of being the legalistic or pharisaical type in a church that at times infuriates me with its relaxed response to things and to "rules." I am a rule follower. I like to be on time. I think everyone should bring their Bible to church. I have a lot of extrabiblical rules that I think people would be better off adhering to. I like to be "good" and perfect and this message revealed that I'm not good and by no means perfect.... and that those that are free in Christ are the spiritually mature and are walking with the Spirit.
So.... where does that leave me except painfully exposed as a graceless sinner in a church that is loving, grace-filled and free?
The really awful part? I can't dispute it. It is Truth. It is Scripture, and I'm completely guilty of being legalistic. It just hurts, and hurts that I'm kinda the oddball in my church that struggles in this area. Funny how I strive so hard to be good and right and wind up failing miserably at being good or right. A part of me wishes I could run and hide but where? And from what? Go join a church that is filled with legalistic and pharisaical sinners like me so I feel better?
I'm grateful for my church but I just wished it did not sting so much.