Being a control freak myself – which in my twelve step group is labeled a character defect, and in a church can be considered a sin, I found this mornings bible study interesting at minimum. A key to finding sobriety in A.A. is the elusive “spiritual awakening”. One of the greatest reasons to attend A.A. is for the fellowship. Should this not be the case when attending church? Don’t get me wrong, I have felt welcomed at many churches (where I seek spiritual guidance), however, I have also felt judged and almost shunned (if) when I speak my personal issues. I once thought “I sure would love to have my Pastor’s phone number on speed dial, like I do my sponsor’s!” Have some churches forgotten that we are all sinners? A.A. hasn’t forgotten, but I am a devout Christian as well.
I have recently been blessed by having the opportunity to experience and participate in church services at many varying Christian denominations facilities in multiple geographic locations. I have taken a message from each service and in each instance, the gift that I’ve received is the relationships with people that I have formed. This hasn’t been necessarily true in every occasion with the leaders of each establishment. The congregations were warm, friendly and curious. On the contrary – most (not all) of the time the leaders were the opposite – cold, impersonal, and unattentive to my needs or even my presence!
I have, on more than one occasion visited churches where the sermons “blew me away”. They were sermons that not only kept me awake and focused but filled me with empowerment and I looked at those Pastors, Priests, Clergy, Reverands, Elders, etc., with great admiration and respect. In each experience, I put aside my personal social anxieties and made the attempt to meet them and introduce myself. The result? As I explained above; cold, unattentive, etc., and I also noticed a few who went into the category of arrogant and downright demeaning.
I was in attendance at a service where I distinctly noticed that not one person was holding hands or putting their arm around there husbands, or wives or children! This was in a relatively small congregation of approximately 400. I felt like I was in the “Twilight Zone” literally!
I purposefully reached down and grabbed my girlfriend’s hand.
Initially, at another service (at a different denomination), the entire congregation were warm, inviting and very friendly. When the service began I couldn’t help but notice that many in attendance uttered shoosh in almost one loud voice when the Minister walked in. You could hear a pin drop in that building. People (and families) were individually singled out to move their seating positions! The worship (or lack thereof) reflected this seemingly intimidating aura.
I once thought “I sure would love to have my Pastor’s phone number on speed dial, like I do my sponsor’s!”
13 The Lord says:
“These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is based on merely human rules they have been taught. (Isaiah 29:13)
How does this all relate as far as a bible study and alcoholism (or any affliction)? Well, we looked at what Jesus taught. Relationship! We looked at what is God’s will for us, and how that plays a role in our lives today. We have authority all around us (and with good cause), but is that fact supposed to scare us? This is where we turned to the bible for answers.
Jesus sums it up in the book of Mark:
35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”
36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”
38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”
39 “We can,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”
41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 9:35-45)
Our understanding or perception of this story is that some of today’s authorities seek vanity and selfish desires for their own status (such as James and John asking to be at His right and left hand) and forget their “mission” in its entirety.
My previous 10 years of experience of leading people at a large manufacturing facility taught me many lessons. I managed departments where, honestly, I had no idea what they really did. I learned that to lead those people successfully – to understand those people – I needed to do what they do. I would actually take off the “white shirt” and put on the blue; get dirty and perform their job in its entirety with no “stage” set. One of those lessons is that by serving, I not only gained knowledge but earned respect and thereby accomplished goals. I have “sat where they sat”.
Many of you (if you’ve made it this far, thanks!) may not have time to watch the following video, however, I hope that you do. Keep in mind that I am not promoting the church or Pastor in the video, nor do I work there, but the message is most definitely worth listening to.
At the end of our Bible study today, we know that we need to pray for and love our leaders and have faith that God is using them either to teach us or to learn something themselves. Either way, He has a purpose! We are going to practice relationship, and love wins every time!
2 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior…(! Timothy 2:1-3)
Today’s verse “to chew on”:
50 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
Thank you so much for reading, Please feel free to comment and have a great day!