CHRISTianity vs. CHURCHanity

I began reading the book of Mark this morning. I like the book of Mark. Mark jumps right in and starts telling the story of Jesus' days on the earth. He gets right to the point and he uses the word immediately, a lot. I like his story telling style. The following verses jumped off the page at me:

Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests,
along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners.
(There were many people of this kind among Jesus' followers.)
But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees
saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples,
"Why does he eat with such scum?"
When Jesus heard this, he told them,
"Healthy people don't need a doctor - sick people do.
I have come to call not those who think they are righteous,
but those who know they are sinners."
Mark 2:15-17

After being in the church for awhile I have observed a tendency for us to become complacent and comfortable in 'our righteousness'.  We seem to forget how much we have changed and the fact that we are not righteous apart from Jesus. The truth is, we are still just as dependent on him now, as we were the day he first cleansed us. As we commit ourselves to him and he works within us to transform us into his image, let us not forget that it is Jesus making us new. Let us not lose sight of where we would be without him. Let us remember that we are sinners saved daily by the grace and mercy of Jesus. 

I have often pondered what it means to 'come out from among them and be separate' in 2Corinthians 6:17. I wonder if we are being called out of unbelieving, self-righteous CHURCHanity, where we forget our former purification, into CHRISTanity, remembering that we are sinners, totally dependent on the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ.

The truth is, I am a self-righteous, sometimes arrogant, easily offended, impatient, bossy, almost always right, woman. Not to mention the fact that I have serious Pharisee tendencies that I battle with all of the time. Really, inside the cup, I am often filthy, and daily in need of the cleansing blood of Christ. On the outside, I seem kind, quiet, sweet, forgiving, gentle, compassionate and very patient. I know this because I have heard people say these things about me. And I marvel every time. I usually think something like, "Wow, God has caused them to perceive me in such a favorable light."

But the truth is, did God really cause people to see me in a way that isn't true? Or am I so good at playing my part in CHURCHanity that I have fooled even myself into thinking that God is in this somehow.

I am not saying that Christ has not worked these qualities into me, because he definitely has, and I give him all of the credit for making someone like me into someone like him. For it is God who worketh in me that which is pleasing in his sight. I have been made new. But the truth is, I don't always live the abundant life that Jesus died to give me. But, for some reason, at church especially, I act like I do. Does anyone relate?

 I once saw on a church billboard the following statement:

The church is not a haven for saints, but a hospital for sinners.

This is true in theory. In reality, when I look around, when I examine myself to see if I am in the faith, I get a very different picture. I see a bunch of people, including me in my comfort zone, sparkling clean on the outside and seemingly living the good christian life. Because of this, my church experience has been very shallow. We are only exposing the outside of the cup to one another. If we are honest, many of us, all of us (?), need to repent everyday. Yet, when we see each other, we smile and say we're doing good, especially when we are not fine at all. 

Colossians 3:9 says, 'Don't lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all it's wicked deeds.' The portion of scripture preceding this is talking about the transformation that takes place when we become believers and the responsibility we have to decide to walk each day in the newness of life that Jesus made possible for us. It starts with, 'Put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you.' The problem is, we don't always do it, but we act like we do. That, my friend, is hypocrisy. We are lying to each other.

Sometimes I wonder if I am looking and expecting something that isn't reality, and then I read something like 1Corinthians 12 and 13 and I realize that it is the Holy Spirit within me crying out for fellowship and unity. I am looking for a deeper and more meaningful experience in the church. I think it's going to have to start with a commitment to be really honest with each other. To accept each other and to remember that we are all disreputable sinners, scum, as Mark put it. We are sick and in desperate need of a doctor. This is true everyday of our Christian journey. It never changes. Every moment of every day we need Jesus to extend His mercy to us. Let's stop pretending otherwise.

The Lord looks down from Heaven and sees the whole human race.
From his throne he observes all who live on the earth.
He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do.
Psalm 33:13-15

I am comforted by these verses and this glimpse into the heart of God. He knows my heart, and he still loves me. I wonder, would you still love me if you could see into my heart? If I allowed you to see into my heart on a bad day?

Much, much love my friend,



Loved this! The quest to live loud and be real and let Him shine through and mess and the beauty of it all... I'm on that road too, my friend! Praying for boldness to consistently just BE...
Aritha said…
Fascinating post. I think I love you :-) Because you're so honest. And yes, that heart of us is an ugly thing. But when it is in His hands, he makes it pure. He will mold us and sculpt us to a vessel unto glory of Him. With ups and downs but ...

I also like the Mark's gospel.

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