Friday, June 1, 2007

Wal-Mart - A Church Without Walls

The very first time after we had left our CLB that I went to Wal-Mart I had an incredible revelation.

As I looked at the people there from my town I realized that if I met anyone that had gone to my church and had left it I could be myself for the first time ever. I did not have to “represent CLB or the leaders” in my greeting to them. I was free to actually represent myself and Jesus directly if I encountered any of them. This was amazing. Before, I had thought that if I ran into anyone who had left us that I needed to at least be reserved because of what they had done to the church. Now I suddenly didn’t care.

I also realized that if I ran into anyone from a different church in our town that I could be genuinely glad for them. I did not have to feel sorry that they went to their church and not to ours. I could see them for the first time as my brothers and sisters in the body. The whole body. Suddenly the Church was very big to me. Without having walls around me, defining what “church” was, I was given a very big gift of the Church. She was something I could embrace for the very first time. I did not care if she were perfect, had the perfect teachings, had perfect worship, had perfect government or had the very best leaders. I could just love her.

The last thing I realized was something that still puzzles me. I looked at people who were probably non-Christians. I somehow felt that I was also one of them. I felt “among them” for the first time. I, also, did not go to a specific church. I, also, was free on Sunday mornings. I was walking among them as one of them. Like I said, I don’t really understand this one at all. The only thing I can think is that without the walls of a “church” around me I was let out into their world and for the first time, I could feel a bit of who they were. I loved this feeling. I wanted to talk to them. I wanted to hear their stories. I wanted to play with their kids. I was not irritated at being kept in line at the checkout. I wanted to be among them.

Also, I did not have to get them to come to my church. I was free just to have a relationship with them that had no motivation to it other than to show them that I loved them and therefore that Jesus wanted a relationship with them too. After a lifetime of “having to share the gospel with someone and get them to come to my church” I was free.

Wow. A Church without walls.

A Former Leader without walls. I like this.


Anonymous said...

alan wrote:

"Former Leader",

Thank you for sharing part of your journey with us. I am also learning that the church is bigger than four walls and should have never been defined by four walls (or organizational structures).

I appreciated your discussion of learning to live with unbelievers.


Marti G said...

Yes!!!! Oh yes, yes, yes!! This is the thing that is so very hard to communicate to those who so deeply desire for us to “get back into fellowship.” We now fellowship with them all! We move in and out and among the world, though we are not part of it. That verse really means something to me now, in a way that it never did before.

I’m an “outsider” too when I see someone out and about on a Sunday morning. I’m no different from anyone else around. I’m no longer a member of something that I need to talk you into joining. Instead, I can join you in friendship, and if you don’t already have a relationship with your Father, I can tell you about mine, and maybe that will get you a little further in your journey.

Watchman said...

What a great summary of the freedom from the trappings of the Church As We Know It. Jesus called us to this kind of freedom, yet how ironic that we lose this in his name by doing church supposedly according to the Scriptures.

The biggest thing I enjoy about being away from the Church As We Know It is not feeling like I have to be its salesperson. You couldnt have put it better.