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hypocritesIf you’ve shied away from churches all your life because you felt they were full of hypocrites, you’d be right. I’m one of them. So often my “walk” does not reflect my “talk” though I work at it constantly. I will NOT say I’m religious. I’m not. I love and respect Jesus and seek with my whole heart to emulate him as much as I can. But I won’t say I’m a Christian. He wasn’t either. That’s not a word he ever used. The early followers of Jesus called his philosophy The Way (correct me if I’m mistaken here please, Plato). So I’d say I’m a follower of The Way. And often I suck at it. (Confession is good for the soul?)

I will add to that that the belief system I was raised with has undergone a mega upheaval in the last 20 years. I don’t buy into the party line the way I used to. (There, I said it out loud.) I have come to believe that until we struggle with our own faith like Jacob did with the angel in Genesis 32, it’s not OURS at all. And Jacob’s angel is a body builder! So be ready for a work out when you meet up! You know, Aunt Fanny’s prayer habits are NOT yours. So if you’ve fiddled around with the idea of going to or being in a church all your life and you’re running on your parent’s gas, get off your butt and go get your own faith.

Church is changing rapidly now. From what I can see in my neck of the woods, we’re beginning to understand that Jesus’ philosophy was really very radical in light of the political situation in which he lived. Little by little churches are moving away from it all being about the “letter” of the law to embracing the “spirit” of the law. And that’s where the rebellion of Jesus began. I’m not an authority on that, but I believe with my whole heart Jesus was a rebel.

The congregation we attend is one of the churches that is joining the “put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is” movement. We are partnering with a program in our state (though it may be a nationwide program and for the life of me I can’t remember the name of it) to provide housing in our church for homeless families for a week at a time while folks come alongside the adults to help them find jobs. I understand we will be converting possibly four classrooms into family-type rooms to house up to a total 15 people. Our church has shower facilities (which is a huge plus), and volunteers in our congregation will come in every day to cook three meals. Others of us will be spending time with the families getting to know them, helping them with other needs.

THIS, in my opinion, is what Jesus’ faith community was all about. I’m mentioning it today because I’m really excited. I was thrilled to see the congregation embrace the program. Lots of preliminary stuff needs to be put into place, but for me this is where the rubber meets the road.

So if you’ve never attended a church community, check one out. You might be surprised at what you find. For those of you who have and have walked away in disgust, give it another go. You may find things are not the same as when you left. We all long for community, for fellowship. That’s why the majority of us got on Word Press to blog. We’re seeking like-minded people who can encourage and support us. The church at large that is emerging today is becoming more and more a place like that. Just sayin… We attend a Methodist congregation. If you don’t know where to go, I’d suggest you start with them. We’re not members, but the community we found there is so accepting and loving that we feel like we’re home.

And there’s nothing in this world that will make you feel better than giving of your time and yourself to others who have needs whether it be through church, the Salvation Army, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, food banks, grandparents listening to first graders read at elementary schools, or whatever. Jesus said there is no greater love than that, the being willing to “lay down your life for your friends.” Volunteering is a terrific way to find where you fit in the world.

One of my favorite groups is an Irish band out of Kansas City, The Elders. A couple years or so ago they put out a great video about volunteering. I hope you take a minute to watch. It’s their song “Building A Boat.”