Saying Goodbye to Guilt Ridden Christianity http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god_article.php?id=7550
was the topic sunday morning. If you go to the link and read it, it pretty much boils down to the motivation of why you are doing what you do.
Are you motivated by a passion for Jesus Christ? God? Your own ego? Are you motivated by guilt? Guilty that you should attend weekly services or guilty that you should either tithe or tithe more? Guilty that you are asked to be on a committee or other such venue and you really don't want to and you say "yes" anyway because you feel bad telling people, especially church people, no?
So this was the topic and it was a good discussion. From the discussion came the following. There are two stages we christians/church goers experience:
1. Churchyness - Encompassing doing all the stuff that falls within expected social norms: attendance, tithing, serving, whatever. Stuff that has to be done for the organization to accomplish its goals/mission. I fondly dubbed it "trying to DO IT right!". Meaning, doing church right.
2. Spiritualness - This I dubbed "trying to GET IT right!" meaning that at some point your motivation changes. Your awareness changes. The process of church may not do it for you anymore. You are aware that, as the old saying goes, "going to church makes you no more a christian than going to McDonalds makes you a hamburger". You actually have to live the christian faith, not just take part in its process. Get your spritual side in shape!
I also think many people are stuck in #1, either blissfully or just unaware that there is more. Not everyone mind you, but more than one thinks. So my thought is - is church attendance more important than feeding the poor? obviously not. But do we feel personally guilty for not going out to feed the poor? Many do not. Because we are part of a larger organization that we give money too and "they" (whoever they are) go out and do that stuff. We donate fans in the summer, blankets in the winter, food all year long, and someone else distributes those needed items. Its christianity from a safe distance.
But many think of christianity and church attendance/service as synonomous. And it is not. You are a good christian because..... "He is always in church". "She is always serving on committees". "He teaches sunday school". "She is always dressed nice and so are her children". But why?
If your answer is "because I have a passion for people and God has called me too serve in this capacity" then you are coming from a place of positive motivation. If your answer is "because I feel like I have to" or "I just couldn't say no" then that is not a healty place of motivation.
Even worse, however, would be this answer. "I do not know, I guess its just expected" or "because I was brought up that way and I am bringing up my kids that way". If church has become a social norm for you then please, reconsider what you are doing and why you are doing it. In the new testament, Jesus wasn't really all that concerned overall with the processes or then social norms of the day. He knew them.. as a boy he participated in them... but he always challenged them. He always put them in the proper place, which was beneath the needs of the people. People always had more value than rules and processes to Jesus. Still do.
So, say Goodbye to Guilt Ridden Christianity. Say Hello to passionate service. Oh yeah, and how do I come to these conclusions? I was in stage one for oh, so long.