I know often my writings can be a bit critical of the church. So essentially I am being critical of God’s people; maybe even critical of God? While I would not be the first one, or the last to be very opinionated, having the desire, or dare I say the need to question my faith. I want to share some inspirational words to those who feel that they do not belong in the church; or feel the church is not what it once was to them. I can write this because the church is not what it once was for me.
When I was in my late teens and twenties the church was the place to be. It was the happy bliss first time heroin users feel. Unfortunately it is something we often chase for a lifetime, always trying to find that new spiritual high that kept us coming back. Yet just as good as it feels the chasing will let us down and soon we have spiritual track marks from injections of the next paradigm shift. It takes a real good spiritual junkie to make it through a whole life dedicated to the church. Although some great sages who often lurk, not in the pulpit so much as the pews. These guys are real Christ like gurus. They have it figured out and make us wonder why not me? Or, maybe they are junkies too and just have a good way of hiding it.
Through my personal adventures I have racked up a lot of study and prayer time. I even have a good amount of formal theological education. Yet it seems like the more I think I know, the more cynical I become. This has happened especially as I have entered my later 30’s. I do not feel the need to impress anyone. For many years I attended church and had one major intention, to get a job as a pastor. I found out unless you have parents in ministry within the flavor of Christianity that I am from it can be a difficult task. That on top of my own baggage I carry as an ex-felon and someone who has abused alcohol and other drugs in the past and carry a scarlet letter and guilt, that I know does not belong, but still lingers. I think that can be a driving force behind many of us in similar situations. For me it is about reaching to higher heights academically; probably the reason I am a doctoral student. I want to prove I am better than my doubters. Probably the reason I started my own flop of a ministry “The Backyard Preacher” which consists of this blog and a podcast. It is probably why I am critical of many preachers and ministries; especially the ones that think they have the answers, I hate that! No one has all the answers! The church has not done me wrong for say, I have just not yet achieved what I thought I wanted out of the church. I wanted to be a great leader, preaching with passion to thousands of people. I wanted to be a world changer for Jesus and live the life of the preacher on TV. Houses, cars, women, lots of money; I would probably be in jail faster than Jim Bakker can sell a tub of apocalypse food.
Here is the inspirational part of my story. My church attendance is not what it used to be. My ego centric desire to become a Christian leader is shrinking, as I have been humbled. While the desire and “calling” to the pastorate is still there; If I never hold the official position It is whatever. I am becoming more satisfied morphing into one of those Christian sages who can which can only be attained though trials, disappointment, and acid trips. Understanding that the Christian life is fully emotional, but at the same time fully built upon faith that requires no action. I have written much about faith and how we innately feel we must do some kind of performance to be worthy. The sage understands that there is no amount of work that can make us worthy. Basically what it boils down to is that we stop playing church. We stop acting like Jesus took all our evil desires away and that life is grand. We stop trying to be someone we are not. What is inspirational about all this? I have, and I am continuingly coming to realize that I can just be me. If being me is good enough for God, it is good enough for the church.