For the first 35 years of my life or so, I was either a very active attendee in church or at least semi-weekly. Over the past ten years, I have either been sporadic or didn’t attend church at all. Looking back on it, I am able to determine why I had left. It wasn’t due to any conscious choice to leave. But in a gradual way, The Lord had removed me. Having done so, I was able to get a bird’s eye view of what goes on. This perspective has been profound.
The specific experience that caused me to withdraw from church happened in 2012. I will keep names of people and places confidential. Generally, a woman and her three children between the ages of 1-6 years old were homeless or in a shelter due to financial problems caused by her husband’s untimely death a few months earlier. I was basically driving through the area and noticed them walking along the sidewalk in the downtown area. I stop my car and then proceeded to interact with them. After finding out what the basic situation was, I drove them to one of the churches that I was familiar with having attended it a few times over the years.
After we got out of my car and went to the church office, I explained the circumstances and inquired to see what could be done. To make a long story, they were denied assistance. I was shocked and the mother was shocked as well. So we basically left the church. I am of limited means myself, but I gave them around $20 and tried to offer prayer for them personally and for others to help them. They being heartbroken thanked me for my generosity and walked down the street. I pray that this story had a happy ending.
I have been one who has suppressed my emotions especially anger and fear for decades and my other emotions have been used little. I think subsciously I do this to protect myself from being hurt. Like a soldier. However reflecting back on this experience last night, I could feel the anger welling up in me. I was angry at this particular church for their cold-heartedness and strict adherence to redtape. I thought “How can a church with all its property holdings all of the sudden is so poor that it can’t even spare $10 or $20 for a widow and her three children.”
Clearly, this nation is in a long running Dark Night of the Soul. I have had my own experience with it. My basic concern with churches today is they like in the past are more interested in fitting in with the world and therefore compromised their unique purpose. We are not being the salt and light. The question I struggle with is should I attend a church that is not being the salt and light or continue to stay away until the church gets its priorities straight?
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