Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Church and 'Doing Stuff'

There seems to be something about 'doing stuff' that is deeply addictive within the life of our churches.

Without doubt it is also a cultural thing where we want to prove our worth by how much we work and do.  We think doing stuff is the most important thing.

Within church life it can mean the end of community.

Churches can have meeting after meeting to talk and plan the stuff they want to do.  And the stuff we do can very easily become the thing that defines us so that the church that does the most stuff is seen as the church who is getting the important stuff done.

We believe we are finally a success.

We come to believe our own self importance as church and see the relentless meetings as a sign of our success.  And the meetings become a place of business, a place to decide how the stuff is done properly.

Then the power games begin.  The ones who do the most stuff make a challenge to become the top dog, the power player, the one who decides how the stuff is done.

It all gets dressed up in religious and spiritual language, yet it is no different to a business meeting in any secular organisation.  Worse than that, the stuff we do becomes the god of our lives and church, the thing we bow down and worship.

I was reading about when Moses struck the rock in Meribah and water poured out from it.  Moses is chastised by God for not trusting him.  God tells Moses to speak to the rock and water will gush out, yet Moses strikes the rock twice with his staff.  Water still flows, yet Moses has done it his way rather than God's way.

Moses did not trust God enough.  Moses wanted to do stuff to get the water.  God simply wanted Moses to pray.  And Moses suffered the consequences of his disobedience by not entering the Promised Land.

Doing stuff might well get good things done, things that bless our community and people in need.  God is a good God and desires to rescue, redeem and raise up the poor, oppressed and abused.  And praise God when he uses the efforts of our churches to do that.  But in our desire to do stuff we may well suffer the consequences.

In our desire to always be doing stuff we may well forget how to trust God.  We may well see prayer as obsolete or an after thought.  We may well come to believe that God only acts when we do stuff.

The consequences may well be that we lose our love and intimacy with God.  We may well find ourselves trusting in what we do than the One who as done it all.  God may become an after thought to the work of our hands.

What good is it to gain the whole world yet forfeit our soul?

It is important that we serve God in action, in practical ways to see lives changed and communities transformed.  But that transformation comes from God, not us.  And only God can do the stuff whereby real change and redemption happens.  So the Church is first and foremost called to pray.  And out of that place of prayer we go and act in ways that God calls us to.

If we believe the lie that as churches we should be really busy doing lots if stuff, then we will become proud, no longer trusting in God.

And if we believe that God will only do something if we 'strike the rock' rather than 'just' praying, then maybe God is challenging us to think again...

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