samedi 5 août 2006

Church s/hopping

"No wonder Paul calls the metaphor of the Church as the bride of Christ a profound mystery! God invented romance and pursuit and the promise of undying love between a man and a woman so that throughout our lives we could catch a faint glimmer of the intense love Christ has for those He died to save. What passion He has for His Church! Even if you've never studied the Bible, you've heard the echoes of this amazing love throughout your life. Every true love story has hinted at it. Every groom weakened at the sight of his radiant bride has whispered of it. Every faithful, committed, and loving marriage has pointed to it. Each is an imperfect echo of the perfect love song of heaven." - Stop Dating the Church! by Joshua Harris, page 30

I've just started reading this book after seeing it in my church library, and it has been amazing so far. Definitely a wake-up call for us who have treated the church as another "market" so to speak, where the consumer's needs come first. I appreciate that this book tackles a relevant subject for Christians today; before attending Bible college, I had no idea just how many Christians did not go to church. I was quite shocked after finding out that some people my age thought church had no place in their lives even as believers.

Speaking for myself, church has been absolutely essential to my growing as a Christian. When I became a Christian over 7 years ago, I was forbidden to go to church. My parents were against it and I would say it was an opportune time for me to convert back to Chinese folk religion, which was precisely their goal (a smart way to do it wouldn't you say - preventing contact with other Christians or anything having to do with Christianity would have discouraged me from pursuing my faith further).

As I didn't have much of a choice then, I ended up taking books out from the public library and trying to read as much as I could on Christianity. But that could not have substituted for church. I was able to go to a church nearby a few times despite my parent's ultimatum, but I wasn't part of any community there. It wasn't until the beginning of high school that God brought me to a different church through some fun circumstances that I finally felt connected to the family of God. And miraculously, my parents didn't object to this church which I am now a member of! I am so incredibly grateful to my church; without its influence and impact on my life for over the past 6 years, I know I wouldn't be the person I am today.

I guess I could say that after looking back at how I desperately wanted to go to church but couldn't, that I can't understand why Christians who have the opportunity and freedom to choose not to. I don't want to be insensitive to those who have not yet found a church to belong to for whatever legitimate reason, but I do know of those who are simply stubborn and willfully resist being part of a local church. I'm hoping to finish this book after completing some more assignments as the first few chapters have really grabbed my attention. It's not too long of a book and I recommend picking it up, even if you are already committed to a church as it will only reinforce your love for it even more. And if you aren't part of a church, well you're pretty much the target audience!

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