2/04/2007

DOGMA CAN'T KEEP ME OUT OF PLACES I WANT TO GO

How do I tell my church friends that what I believe no longer coincides with what they believe? I have this feeling that a few of them already know, but are reluctant to approach the subject. For my part, I haven't approached it because once you understand the totality of Christ's mission, doctrine and dogma are no longer important social issues.

Several people have asked me why I still attend a church every so often (my "attendance" is about once every two weeks). I have a simple answer for that; I see no reason to stop going. As I said, once you understand the totality of Christ's mission, doctrine and dogma are longer important social issues. Where I am located in any given moment has no bearing on what I believe, and what I believe has no bearing on where I go; this offer of life and freedom is mine for the taking and sharing no matter where I am. That's why going to "church" is still a natural thing for me to do.

Do I listen to sermons, I have been asked? Not really, although there are times I listen to what other people are listening to. Does that mean I know everything? No, it doesn't, but it does mean that I know what sounds like life, and what sounds like captivity; I will avoid captivity at all costs.

So why continue going to church if you don't listen to sermons? There is a simple answer to that question as well. There are people at church, where else should I be? If I go to a bar, there are people there also. The grocery store, a theater, the Internet, a walk in the woods are all marvelous places to meet people and to share life and freedom with. Church is just as good a place as any to love someone else. I have yet to hear an argument, any argument, that would convince me otherwise.

And somehow, although I am not really into the craze of WWJD. I can't help but wonder every so often why Jesus hung around the temple so much, knowing what he knew. What was the point? His message was as vibrant outside of Jerusalem as it was inside of the temple; it didn't seem to change no matter where he went. I tend to think that if Jesus, knowing the truth far better than I, wasn't uncomfortable or threatened by being in a place he knew could sometimes be a prison for people, why should it be any different for me?

In the end, there are people at church, and some of these people are friends. Some are not. But it doesn't even really matter if they are friends or not; if I stay away because of dogmatic differences, they will never be friends, and I will never have the opportunity to love them as an experience rather than as a concept. It has been my experience that no matter what someone believes, the experience of loving them is far greater than a distant concept of loving them. The experience of loving people and sharing life with them no matter what they believe is what brings community to life; dogma cannot stand in the way of that, ever.

6 comments:

Cliff said...

Well said Tom. I agree that once you really know you are free it really doesn't matter where you are physically and at a church you have a great opportunity to allow the freedom in Christ shine.

SteveW said...

"How do I tell my church friends that what I believe no longer coincides with what they believe?"

I can relate to why you ask this question Tom. Is it because of so much importance being place on what we believe that makes us feel this way around our old more orthodox thinking friends? Have we been conditioned to think that it is all about our faith and how that faith is defined?

I admit that I have absolutely no desire to listen to sermons any longer. What God has spoken to me is much better. You just don't see the need for pastors and teachers when you learn to trust THE Teacher.
;-)

Having said that, may you be a great influence to those at church. Don't tell them anything. Just be happy in who you are my friend.

Tom Reindl said...

Cliff, Thank you.

Steve,

I just hope to enjoy being with them. For myself, I feel no desire to preach unless asked, and I wonder, even amongst people who believe as we do, if that will be considered selfish.

BruceD said...

I find it very frustrating to be in a group in which I cannot communicate. You spend two hours, shoulder to shoulder with these folks, and you're lucky if you get to interact with them for more than 10 minutes. I'd rather show up after the service and wait outside for people to talk to. Then again, after two hours of being an audience to a performance, they just want to go home and rest.

I'd rather go to the bar.

Tom Reindl said...

Bruce,

I understand completely. I have an advantage then, because I know most of these people personally, and rarely, if ever, step inside "the sanctuary" to sit still for an hour while someone preaches. I do just what you do, only I meet with people during the service, outside "the sanctuary", because our "church" has multiple services.

Ellie said...

i know charismatic christians who still attend a dead church in the hope that they might bring some life, i know protestants who still attend the catholic church that they were brought up in in the hope that they might shine the truth of forgiveness straight from God.

as they put it, standing on the outside throwing stones will never bring change. but being on the inside showing love will change lives.