Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Great Feast

Last night I was invited to attend another church service. I went desiring to begin a new relationship with the one that invited me and fully convinced that my going would allow me to hear from the Lord again regarding organized church. Contrary to last week, this church is larger, has all the bells and whistles and is much more "charismatic". I was wowed by the light show and fifteen color coordinated worship team members. Everyone raved about how the church was in a new season where they're apparently "about to explode" (no one really seems to know what that means, but it does sound good).

As opposed to last week's church that was quiet, lethargic and "traditional", this church had pizzazz and charisma that obviously interests people. But what about those, like myself that just don’t care about the light show, the cameras, the hollerin’ and the “hype-ness” of it all? I do want to be respectful to who invited me, so I won't go on any further with this – you get my point. Let me summarize by what my wife and I walked away with. Over the last year, we have experienced the real church. It’s not about which “style” I like better or what order of service or worship music is “my kind of thing”. I have experienced groups of people where Jesus is lifted high, not man. The Word of God is taught, not merely man’s opinions I’ve seen others open up and reveal shortcomings and sin because the Holy Spirit led them too, not because they were coerced or led down a trail of emotions. I’ve experienced the presence of a holy God in a room where there’s no music, no Pastor and no need for anyone to tell me that the Holy Spirit was now present. I’ve truly tasted, I’ve seen…. and I can never go back.

Let me sum it up like this - let’s say that you’ve spent your whole life eating cold chicken McNuggets every night. You like them, you think that they taste pretty good and everyone around you rants and raves about how great the McNuggets are. You even have meeting after meeting to listen to people talk about these great McNuggets! After all, they do give you some fuel and sustenance. But the problem is, unbeknownst to you, they’re full of preservatives and processed meat and are only making you fat and unhealthy. Then the day comes when you look outside of your window and see a great table set up in the parking lot just outside the doors. It is absolutely covered with the most amazing food that you’ve ever seen. You decide to go outside and check it out. After walking the length of the table a couple of times, someone walks up to you and says that everything on this table was prepared just for you. You’re in awe as you’ve never even known such a fantastic spread even existed. You walk up beside the table and look down onto a huge plate of home-made fried chicken that sits before you. As it’s still steaming, you reach down to grab a piece. As you begin to eat of it, your senses come alive, the smell, the taste… it’s incredible! After hours of eating to your heart’s, and stomach’s, content, you turn around and see the building that you exited from standing before you. You know full well that within its walls are nothing more than cold chicken McNuggets, likely left over from last night. You now have a choice.

I choose to stay at the banquet table laid before me by my loving Father! Just like this metaphor, I’ve tasted, I’ve seen. I will never go back and nibble on the cold, processed, regurgitated “food” that is called “structured church”. I sit in heavenly places with a bountiful feast set before me and that is where I intend to stay.


kristin said...

One of the things about that banquet table that I recall very distinctly is that we, well maybe I, wondered if I should actually be eating that food. The draw of the cold chicken McNuggets was not great, but it was familiar. As I've eaten more and more from the banquet table, I've realized how much more hungry I am now than I was then. And how much more I am encouraged to "eat" more than I was then.

Was it an easy transition? Not always. Has it been difficult at times? To say the least. Is it worth it? 100 percent.

After seven months of knowing that the table existed and three to four months of feasting at that table, I am truly seeing and experiencing what is meant by church. And I'm glad that I like fried chicken. :)

Anonymous said...

Brother, with my experiences I have conveyed it as ,Eating strawberry ice cream and someone setting chocolate ice cream in front of me and saying here have some strw,. once you have exper. the realness of our Father there is no replacment.Fortunately to those who seek with all there heart He will be found of by them and I thank Him that HE is faithful to reveal the TRuth. Does it make us any better than anyone else absolutely not s0 let us continue to pray and agree for the eyes and hearts to be open to the truth. Lord give us wisdom to be able to speak into the lives that desire the truth and not become bitter with those not willing to hear. Grace ,Peace and Love .frank Glorious Visions

rave.n said...

This past weekend I went to my Grandmother's church. You know the one that doesn't sit still when they praise the Lord. And they praise Him thru EVERYTHING!

Anyway, this past weekend was different than any other time I've gone because I went alone. NO immediate family, just I took the drive to visit my grandma since she's still recovering from knee surgery.

This meant making it to town at the end of a Saturday night worship service and waking the next morning for Sunday school then service as well.

Although I do belong to a "structure" church this was a very different experience for me. Especially without the buffer of my parents there sitting next to me.

So there I sat in this familiar yet foreign environment where the preacher preached against things that I knew could be used to glorify God and for things that I consider spare rituals.

I would be lying if I didn't say at times I was uncomfortable and felt a bit convicted. Also I would be lying if I said I didn't revel a little in the freedom I've found in Christ.

All this to say that at one point a Mother in the church asked my grandmother, a church mother herself, who I was.

She said, "Who is that young girl with the Holy Ghost Glow?"

My Grandmother relied, "That's my grand daughter and she has that glow because she's real. She gets that from me."

That relaxed me a lot!

Despite our very different gaits in walking with the Lord that is what we have in common. We're true to the path He's set before us.

Barb said...

Lew A from Life in the Journey, quoted a bit of your analogy in his post today. I responded to it on that post. I won't repost it here as it is long but I wanted to thank you for the great analogy and offer to let you see my comments on it. Thanks

Joel Spencer said...

Thanks for the tip Barb, I'll check it out.