by Mike Keating on Wednesday, 16th of April 2014
The Great Divorce.
After Easter, we begin a new series called “The Power of Belonging”. One of the noticeable trends in Australian church life is that people’s commitment to church is falling …. and that among those who consider themselves highly involved. The largest shift in the religious demographic is the 18% increase in those who list their religion as “No Religion”. Furthermore, people are attending church about as half as often as their parents and about a quarter as their grandparents.
Now of course the world has changed in so many ways. Sunday is now no longer the “Lord’s Day” and people may have to work. Then there are the sporting events, the clubs and other activities now held on Sundays.
I think if the devil or government tried to stop us from worshipping God on Sunday that the church would rise up and protest and fight for our God. However, maybe, just maybe, if the devil makes us busy, just a bit too busy, so busy that we don’t have time to go this week, but we will certainly go next week, then we tend to let that drift into our behavior. I really dislike giving the devil a compliment, but he is a master strategist. (2 Cor. 2:11)
C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors. In his book, The Great Divorce, Lewis provides a theological fantasy about heaven and hell where a person dies and goes to place called “Grey Town”. In Grey Town, everyone seems annoyed with each other, and locked into past habits, hurts, and hindrances. The result is that they fall out with each other and move away. So, Grey Town expands at as infinite speed as people choose loneliness and unhappiness over learning to get along with their neighbors. Effectively, Lewis predicts the observation by the notorious French Existentialist, Jean Paul Sartre, that “Hell is other people”. People can choose to leave Grey Town and go to heaven if they want …. but they end up not wanting to go!
I find that most pain in life comes out of our associations with people. We tend to overcome a broken bone without great trauma or lasting emotional scars, but broken hurts may never heal.
The Church that Jesus dreams of is the answer to hell and the way to heaven. The word church is literally means an assembly, a gathering, a parade in the sense of responding to the roll call, a collective of people meeting for the purpose of governing the community, the tribal council, and a choir.
So, church is not a meeting! Church is not a building! Church is not an organization! Church is not a denomination! Church is people collected and connected around the person of Jesus Christ. This is the Church that Jesus is building and will perfect. It is time for Christians to stop going to church, and start becoming the church.
- Ps Mike