Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message Version)
28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
I recently left Tim at home with the girls so I could attended a local church by myself, but what unfolded was not the spiritual connection I was hoping for. The service was lovely, the atmosphere friendly and the people had beautiful intentions and yet… as the Pastor’s message unfolded I felt like I was witnessing two separate and competing schools of thought. Needless to say I was perplexed by the contradictions I heard during the hour and a half I was there.
The first main train of thought was that all you had to do to be a follower of Jesus was to come to Him. Nothing else. There is nothing else you need to do. The second was that to be a ‘true’ Christian you must attend a local Church. Without local Church fellowship Jesus died for nothing. What the? Do we have to come to church to be classified as a ‘true’ Christian? Does Christian fellowship and spiritual growth only occur within the context of organised religion? When you quote “I will build My Church”, I’m pretty sure God had more in mind than Western Church structures and Sunday meetings.
I desperately wanted to sit with this Pastor and ask questions about what He was saying, but unfortunately large gatherings don’t lend themselves to open discussions. Perhaps he was having an off day and wasn’t articulating what he wanted to say very well? Perhaps I was actually ‘hearing’ something different to what he was saying (I know this happens to preachers a lot)?
In the past I might have agreed with most of the things this passionate preacher was saying, but those days are looooooooong gone. I am living in the ‘unforced’ zone these days, refusing to march to someone else’s expectations (or my perceived expectations) of what ‘being connected’ means. I am continuing to learn the unforced rhythms of grace within a transparent and loving community… and sometimes we even go to Church 😉
I LOVE doing life with my family and close friends. Many of them challenge and encourage me to think outside the box. They aren’t afraid to highlight lies I’m believing and through open and honest chats we discover more about our King called Jesus. It is not heavy or ill-fitting. Tim and I will chat for hours and hours about the character of God – podcasts or sermons we have listened to, books we’ve read, scriptures we have encountered and other conversations we’ve had. It is exciting and we treasure it. It is a delightful season of growth and even though it is stretching and challenging, it is also free and light because it is unforced. It is like listening to a heart beat. It is like a bird flying effortlessly in the sky. It is the rhythm of grace.
Love Jess xxoo