As a human in the 21st century, we have evolved beyond things like religion and war. Every human is free to live their life with unalienable rights and unbridled opportunity. The great powers of the world work tirelessly to make individual’s lives better, regardless of the cost in votes, money, or status. While the evolved human brain still desires a primitive level of community and spirituality, those needs are better served with social media, professional sports teams, politics, nationalism, and identifying with corporate brands. If you don't believe me, go check the completely neutral news sources. There has not been a war or social movement in decades…
And we are back my friends. Let's move right past the weak introduction and creepy stock photo to talk about God stuff. The question is why would a person like yourself choose to spend your limited hours messing around with church. The first thing to get out of the way is who you are. This article was written for those that take on a rougher lifestyle. If you workout regularly, feel that one of your jobs is to protect those around you, and/or find yourself at some sort of mud/ultra/warrior event occasionally, we are talking to you. The second thing to get out of the way is why we don't just throw up a bible quote that demands faith and allegiance. Instant Victory! So it turns out that some people, us people, need more than that. And finally, all of these words describe a certain flavor of church and a certain kind of environment. The assumption is that you can find that place, and fear not, the articles that follow will serve as a guide in doing just that.
Join The Gang.
You belong to a gang. You and your fellow gang members all prescribe to the same general beliefs about the group, and that belief shapes your gang activity. Die hard political beliefs. Belief in your nation above all else. Specific industries or workplace dynamics. Group identities associated with race, culture, economic factors, government boundaries, and so much more. We all associate with certain groups. Sometimes by choice, sometimes not so much.
In comes the church. The people that flow through a church have all agreed to be associated with the church gang at some level. It’s a shared involvement with a place that is generally good and positive. There is more to just showing up of course, but the fact that everyone you meet there believes in love as a cardinal virtue cannot be overlooked. There are few places more welcoming than a good church. This speaks to the entire experience, community, and investment. Everyone aligns themselves under the same ideas, and that common ground is the foundation for everything else.
This is Your Family.
You might have one, want one, be running away from one, or be open to the idea. The church is good for family. Little kids get friends to play with. Bigger kids get a community external to school or other places. Singles link up with other singles. Families meet up for a bbq. Grandparents have a place to brag on their grandchildren. Everybody wins. Church is just a good place to take the family. A key objective of the church is to bring families, and married couples, closer to each other. And let's not leave out those teens. As they navigate and launch into the world, church gives them an extra tool. A community, and set of beliefs, that is external to the culture of the day. A purpose that taps into the spiritual part of the brain for good and bad times. Something to abandon in their early 20s, only to find again in their early 30s. The bottom line is that a good church is good for everybody. There may be a few weirdos and stinkers in the mix, but the mass effect is a closer family with an established community network of like minded people.
In Comes the Judgement.
Speaking of terrible people, what about all the judgement, bigotry, and mindless bible thumpers just waiting to catch you with some golden verse that will illuminate how sinful your whole life has been. Bam. A few things… all those people are assholes. They might mean well, but they are missing the mark. A good church looks at everyone with love. Bottom line. This is not to contradict the bible, but the requirement is to seek God with pure intentions. What happens after that is between you and the big man. Don't throw baby Jesus out with the bathwater! Seriously, a good church will have enough good people around to overshadow the judgmental few.
To address church positions that don't align with popular culture, or even your own reason, here goes. A good church doesn't turn people away. It will likely communicate the words and intent of the bible, but projecting an ideal model is far from persecution. Anyone that shows up to a good church will be met with a smile and brought on in.
Subservience to a Higher Power.
At last, the greatest mental boulder against the church from the empowered human. Surrender to God. Some frail looking human wearing bedsheets telling me to give them money and "surrender" to God, because that is true strength. Come on bro or brosephine, you can't do ten pushups. Don't tell me about strength.
And here goes plug number 2, seek God with pure intentions. It's just that easy. Put it out there that it feels unnatural to bow down to the pastor (though symbolically you are bowing to God, not the human). Stake a claim that you are suspicious of giving money. The government already taxes you multiple times on your cash. How does the church fit into that? And the last one I swear, seek God with pure intentions. Be truthful. Pray on it and ask for understanding. That is the reasonable expectation. Beyond that, trust your judgement.
So maybe you are open to the idea of church. Maybe you are willing to take a few more steps. Maybe I spent all this time typing up a message that I wish I would have received years ago. A lot of maybes. In summary, church can be good, people can be bad, so it might be worth keeping in mind. Please feel free to view articles on how to find the right church and what to expect when you show up.