Donald Miller recently posted some of his reasons why he doesn’t attend the church assembly much any more. With over 600 comments, many of them agreeing and resonating with Miller’s critique of the church and his reasons for not really wanting to be a part of what goes on there…it goes to show that Miller’s thoughts are the thoughts of many out there. I am sure some of you have felt that way at one time or another.
If you want to read what he said, here are links to his two posts:
I have gotten to where I don’t really like to call people out individually. There can be a place for that but it has to be on a personal level where each person knows they love each other and the respect is reciprocal. I don’t know Donald Miller and I am not writing this to call him out so please don’t read this post that way.
I am writing this to look at one aspect of his perspective because it is shared by so many who may resonate with what Miller is saying but may not know what to do with it.
Donald Miller isn’t the only one who has had a hard time with “church”. In many ways God has too and the troubles start way back.
God made creation good, things fell apart and God decided to destroy the world. Instead he found a guy named Noah and through an act of grace God kept this whole humanity project rolling.
God delivered his people from slavery in Egypt but before they even get to the Red sea they are grumbling. God gives them food and water, they grumble. God provides everything they need…they grumble. God decides he has had enough with them and decides to wipe them out. Moses pleads with God and God relents.
There are more stories like these…sometimes God sent his people into exile in a foreign land, other times he sends oppressors to discipline them but at the end of the day…God keeps them around. Elijah thinks he’s the only one who “gets it” but God lets him in on a little secret – there are 7000 God has reserved who haven’t worshiped the idols (1 Kings 19:18).
Point being – God can be up to things that we just aren’t aware but that is no reason to abandon it. I am sure it is frustrating. It is frustrating to God, to Elijah and to us.The patience of God is a reminder to us to have that same patience because at the end of the day we are all flawed and those who hold the stones eventually get humbled enough to drop them. Dropping the stones doesn’t mean you give up on your vision for a better way. It means you reserve the right of carrying out punitive judgment to the Lord alone.
I am sure God gets sick of religious attempts to check boxes, contrived acts of penitence, abuses of fear and guilt by religious leaders to get their followers to “toe the line” and all the rest. But God still keeps us around. There are churches in the New Testament that I would have assumed God wouldn’t even want me or my family to attend but Paul keeps seeing them as Christ’s church. The list goes on…
If God can be this patient…why can’t we?
Last, I just have to say that for every 100 critics, there is a single person willing to do the work of casting and implementing a better (more godly and biblical) vision of how things need to be. Remember, this post isn’t about Donald (Donald has actually attempted to be that voice in many ways). This post is to all those who have little patience and who don’t see the church or congregational assembly as something fit to be redeemed. It is worth it and we know that because that is what God has showed us over and over again and I trust His judgment is better than my own.