Painting a new picture 4: From the heart.
The “church” needs to be a people not simply of words but of deep conviction, of action born out of faith, motivated from the heart by the Spirit of God, if we are motivated by external factors we’re headed for calamity, we end up in activity based religion, not faith based works.
When considering the downsides of “church” often the performance of a person is graded and marked, like we’re involved in some kind of spiritual talent show, leaving every member constantly unsure if they make the grade or not. How often at the end of a meeting have you heard comments like, “The talk was good” or “I didn’t like the worship” I don’t like this, I don’t like that…..blah blah blah….as if we’re going along on a Sunday to be entertained?
When we fall into the trap of grading people on thier performance we’re missing something, firstly I think we need to consider our own attitudes and motives, but secondly we need to learn to listen to the heart of the people communicating not simply judging them on thier gifting or performance or words…look at the life?
We need to cultivate an atmosphere of encouragement not criticism, where even the most nervous or shy can feel valued enough to share from the heart, without judgement, criticism or condemnation.
Part of the reason for this is our corporate desire for perfection, reputation or acceptance and we grade things accordingly, what will other people think, how will this reflect on me or on us (the institution) but when we are motivated by these factors we fall into the trap of religion…Jesus called these people hypocrites – actors, people who are more concerned about outward appearances then the heart, seen to be holy but in fact white washed tombs. When this goes unchallenged the desire for self preservation and survival dominate at the expense of the original vision, if we as people submit to this “spirit” it soon governs us too and influences our choices, behaviour, thinking.
Personally I don’t belive the church was ever intended to be an institution, but a living breathing organism, that goes through the normal cycles of life, motivated by the teaching of Jesus and intimacy with the Holy Spirit.
If we we’re all graded by our achievements we’d all fail miserably, none of us make the grade, no matter how hard we try, that’s why grace is such good news, Jesus’ blood makes the grade for us. It’s faith that qualifies.