Saturday, January 30, 2010

Good Church-Going People

A lot of people see your faith directly in proportion to how much you go to church, and according to ABC News, a lot of people will likely question President Obama's faith -- again -- based on how few times he's gone over the past year.

The article points to a practical explanation:
Keeping the faith in quiet moments of worship may be the best Obama can do given the realities of the presidency that make it nearly impossible to join a church without inflicting a heavy burden on taxpayers, fellow churchgoers and his own spiritual life, sources say.

Security concerns mean costly and complicated measures to ensure the president's safety on church outings, including screening every member of the congregation for weapons and sweeping the church building and areas around it for threats.

Incessant media attention is also distracting for any president trying to commune with God, exposing what is traditionally a private practice to public scrutiny, [White House spiritual adviser Rev. Jim] Wallis said.
But he's getting serviced:
President Obama also enjoys worshipping "fairly regularly" at the Evergreen Chapel at Camp David, where the Rev. Carey Cash -– a U.S. Navy chaplain and great-nephew of singer Johnny Cash -- ministers, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has said.

"We've been attending church, there's a little chapel up in Camp David when we go up there," Obama told ABC News' "Nightline" in July. "There's a wonderful young pastor up there, a chaplain, who does just wonderful work. And the Camp David families attend."

Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, also frequented the chapel at Camp David and ultimately chose not to formally join a church in Washington during his eight years in the White House.
The article goes on to point out that many presidents haven't formally joined a D.C. area church. Still, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton all frequently attended.

Enough of the rumors that our president is really a Muslim, etc., etc., etc. I've heard 'em all. Let's look at what the Bible tells us.

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV) says:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of GOD's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to GOD—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what GOD's will is—HIS good, pleasing and perfect will.
Notice that Paul doesn't say worship is going to church every Sunday; it's honoring GOD with our lives. It's letting GOD shape how we live so we confirm to HIS will.

Check out 1 Samuel 15:22 (NIV):
"Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
       as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD?
       To obey is better than sacrifice,
       and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
Samuel is asking us to think about what GOD wants more: Going through ritual sacrifices to honor HIM or doing what HE says?

One more for you -- Deuteronomy 10:12-13 (NIV):
And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your GOD ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all HIS ways, to love HIM, to serve the LORD your GOD with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the LORD's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?
You see anything about church in there? Again, GOD wants us obedient.

Now look at what JESUS says in Matthew 6:5 (NIV):
"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men."
In the broadcast journalism world, a camera is nearly constantly on the President every time he's out in public, including church. Given what people have said about the president's feel-good rhetoric, he may not want people to think he's going to church for good PR.

Why go to church then? Because we want to thank GOD for all HE's done for us, be with other Believers, and learn GOD's Word from people who've studied it enough to teach it well. GOD, however, leaves a lot open for us. Also consider this: a lot of people go to church on Sunday morning and then forget about GOD the rest of the week. I used to be one of them.

On the night I started getting right with GOD among friends while standing outside an In-N-Out Burger some three years ago, I felt embarrassed to admit I wasn't going to church. At that time, I went to my Mom and Dad's church in California, but I hadn't found a church in Tucson. I had thought about going to a Presbyterian church here, but never did it. I wasn't getting much out of traditional church. It wasn't speaking to my life, and it wasn't addressing the questions I had about GOD.

I was reluctant to admit this to my friends because I felt they would condemn me, say I was going to Hell. I was afraid they would cut me off. Instead, GOD Bless Them, they wanted to help me and they wanted me to pray with them. That's the way it should be. Soon I was going to church again, at Tucson Community Church, which takes a fun and practical approach to Sunday services.

ABC News reports our president gets spiritual messages every day on his Blackberry. A lot of you get devotionals in your email. Or you go to Christian websites or blogs. Maybe you play in Christian sports leagues, or perform in Christian theater or dance groups... or maybe Christian history groups. These things can help you connect with GOD. But they still aren't church.

I believe a lot of people who don't go to church regularly aren't going to the right kind of church. Not everybody plugs into the ceremony and robes and stained-glass windows of traditional church, even if the pastors of those churches are accurately handling GOD's Word. Maybe you're in a denomination that's thrown up too many rules that come from man, not the Bible. Perhaps your church has gotten too mushy with GOD's principles and left you without clear guidelines. Possibly those old hymns don't speak to you.

Through the apostle Paul, GOD tells us that there isn't one correct way to do church. 1 Corinthians 9:22 says: "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some." Don't feel you're not going to a "real" church if it has contemporary music or pastors who teach from translations other than the Revised Standard or King James Bible. Tell me in the Bible where it says Christian rock music is somehow displeasing to GOD. And to my Catholic friends, I disagree with you in love over the need to confess sins to a priest -- where does the Bible tell us to do that?

So President Obama doesn't go to church regularly. A lot of us don't either. But the President hasn't cut GOD out of his life, and he's going where he can do it practically and privately, not wanting to make a holy spectacle of himself. We have the opportunity to do the same thing. But it's how we live that matters most. Whether the President is living what he learns in church is another debate.

Tucson Friends: Is regular church just not cutting it for you? I highly encourage you to try The Cool Church. Our mission is to reach the unchurched, the unconvinced, and the unchallenged and help them live right for GOD. And we have lots of fun doing it! Even if you don't live here, try watching a few of Pastor Dave's teaching shorts on the website. They're great!


fraizerbaz said...

Wouldn't it be nice if there was a GPS for finding the "right" church?

Anonymous said...

My Dearest Viscount Francis:

Your beloved church, The Cool Church, is truly one of the finest church that I ever have the pleasure of attending. Your Pastor's sermons have such practical principles for living the Christian life. I looking forward to attend your dear church again in the near future.

I curtsy to you, my dearest gentleman, with a heart filled with all of God's blessings.

May God bless you with all of His Love,

Your devoted servant,

Madame Noire