There are many of us out there right now. No, I’m not talking about Christians who live on the streets- though I’m sure there are any number of them as well.
I’m speaking of a different kind of homelessness – a kind of homelessness I find myself humbled by, never having expected that I could be categorized as this:
A homeless, church home-less Christian.
Through journeys varied and often marked by pain delivered from a source that never should cause pain- the church- (yet why we are surprised when we’re hurt by the church, I don’t know, for the church is made up of people who are all flawed and broken like we are) we find ourselves on this common ground, this wandering, this homelessness. Though dulled by busyness and the “advantage” of an extra day to spend working or catching up on projects before Monday hits again, the ache, the longing for a gathering of fellow believers never quite goes away. Instead of being filled with rest and fellowship as they should be, Sundays become just another day to cross more of the never-ending, soul-wearying work off the list, and we find our selves emptied and discouraged.
We ache for a community of believers, enthusiastic and engaged, who are passionate about learning and discussing God’s Word, who believe and engage in the power and discipline of prayer, who share their victories and struggles, whose hearts meet and are knitted together with ours as we join up in this journey through life.
We try a church, here and there, but nothing feels right. Is it so strange to want a home where you are not judged by what you wear or by man’s standards of tradition, or to want a place where God’s Word is upheld and honored, not watered down to cliches and alliterated three-point outlines? Is it so strange to want a church that relies on the Holy Spirit rather than rote traditions or mustering up manpower for the substance of its ministries? Is is so strange to desire that the teaching of future generations be taken seriously and treated as something more than entertaining them for half an hour? Is it so strange to want a church that’s vibrant and active in the community, who sees people around them as souls who are desperately in need of the love of Christ and not the “world” to shut out and run away from? Is it so strange to want a church that consists of more than shallow talk about Jesus, but is filled with genuine, life-changing faith?
Lord, hear the cries of Your children who are calling out to You. We are homeless, hurting, wandering, and in danger, very real danger of apathy. Protect us in our current state. Bring this journey of homelessness to an end. There are so many of us in this situation, Lord Jesus. Gather us together, strip away our humanly conceived ideas about what church should be like, and let us come together and seek Your leadership. Build churches where each believer uses his or her spiritual and physical gifts to build and bless the body to the fullest extent of their capacity. Let us gather together in unity and like mindedness, and rattle heaven with our persistent petitions and turn the world upside-down with our radical surrendered love for people. Protect us from the dangers of isolation, Lord Jesus. You built us for relationships and community; please don’t leave us alone. I pray for those who are alone, and feeling alone now; please let them feel Your presence with them. Give those who need it fellowship and community. Protect our church communities from all the dangers that are present, and let our leaders be wise and loving.
Please, Lord Jesus, complete the work You have begun in us. Bring us home to one another and unleash our God-given talents to bring You glory, build the body of Christ, and bring the unsaved into the light. Make us into true disciples who multiply. Don’t leave us homeless and hopeless, Father. Bring us home.
In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
This post was originally drafted in 2015 but I have been waiting since then for the right time to share it. Today, it seems that this is the day. If you have connected with the message of this post in any way and would like a listening ear to share your story with, please feel free to leave a comment or reply to this email if you are reading from your inbox! And if you are struggling with church in any way right now, my word of encouragement and exhortation to you would be this: Remember, this is not God’s fault. Don’t blame Him for the hurts inflicted by fallen, sinful humans. Know that His heart aches for His church and for you so much more than your heart is aching now, and that He is still good in the midst of all the circumstances that might be shouting otherwise. Hold fast to Him and His Word – it’s the only way to survive. Big hugs!