Monday, 18 February 2013

My Life: An Omnishambles, Extant

Sparkle, little petal, glow,
before the dew is burned away.
Tremble in the hour's frosted snow—
no more now the sun is out to play.

Enough talk of vagabonds and crystal thieves
Of diamond-hearted rogues and nature's reeves
Away, your romance of song and lovestruck dreams;
You will find no solace among the bereaved.

I put no foot in uncharted waters of the heart,
I bear a cross worn smooth by many shoulders.
But though I know this ache is felt by all the world
It seems to me, from where I sit, that I am left alone.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Do I have to go to church?

'I'll go to church because I want to, not because I have to.' Such is the sentiment of the Christian youth of today. Fair enough, that's as it should be. As a child, that argument might have worked to irritate or upset your parents just prior to belaboured obedience. But shouldn't we always do things because we want to, not because we have to?

Christians today like to say that there's no rule they have to go to church; we're under grace, not law. I guess that depends on your definition of the word. Since analogies are the best way we can comprehend our relationship with God, I'll take this back to something a little closer to home.

You're past the friend zone and you think you might be dating; you're mutually attracted to each other and you've decided to give what's happening between you a name. It might even be on Facebook. But unless you're spending time together there's no point pretending that you have a relationship.

One dictionary definition of 'relationship' is: 'the way in which two or more people are connected'. You might be enjoying what you have between you, but if you consistently put your own desires above those of the person you have a connection with, then what you have is false. Sarah and John are going out together, and Sarah wants to spend time with John at her house with her family in her territory, on her terms. He doesn't really feel like making the effort to get up and in the morning and head over, though, and even though she only wants him there in her house once a week it's just too much effort.

And yet, John wants to claim a close relationship with Sarah. He thinks that as long as they spend time together in some way and as long as he is happy, what does it matter? After all, he needs his sleep because he was up late the night before hanging out with other friends. From Sarah's perspective, John's only in the relationship for himself and he's putting her below other priorities—the antithesis of a healthy relationship. If you were Sarah's friend and you saw the way John treated her, how long would it be before you were counselling her to dump him and find someone more committed?

When we don't go to church, the excuses we give, the reasons we have against it, are as pitiful and shameful as anything John can come up with. If John is ill or absent Sarah will understand—but if he doesn't get off his lazy butt and spend some time with her afterwards to make up for it, where's his commitment? Where, then, is our commitment?

The truth is, we do have to go to church. It's a different kind of 'have to', sure—the kind where you have to show your husband or wife physical affection because you love them and want them to know that. The kind of have to where you take time out of your day dedicated to just the two of you. We have to go because the One we are in a relationship with wants one day out of seven in His house, on His terms, with His family. The rest of the week, He'll come to ours, meet us in the middle, accommodate our situation. He is understanding—but He really wants a relationship with us, and the only way that's going to happen is if we want what He wants, 100%. God won't dump us as quickly as Sarah has the right to dump John, but if we love God why would we ever give Him even a human reason to be rid of us?