Two weekends ago I attended a conference at my church - “The Threshing Floor, an exclusive place in God’s Presence for a deep work to begin. A place He called safe and secure, to ensure that His promised work in your life be fulfilled.” The 1st night of the conference centered around an intense praise and worship and a Word from a visiting minister. When I say intense, I mean intense.
That Friday night, I was in church with about a hundred other believers for 4hrs. I hadn’t expected to spend my entire evening in church, and I started to feel a bit fatigued and had a massive headache, but I didn’t want to leave! I was overcome by the Spirit. I felt God moving, touching each soul that cried out (oh, did they ever cry out). I knew that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
Praise and worship lasted almost 3hrs. It was fascinating to witness all that was happening during this time. People sang, danced, jumped, stood, sat, shouted, cried, fell to their knees, prayed, swayed, stretched their hands heavenward. People praised, people worshiped. It was indeed intense to not only feel the presence of the Lord dwelling within me but dwelling in all those around me. Though we were together collectively as one body for one purpose, each of us was experiencing our own personal praise. No two worshipers’ praise was the same. There was no pretense on how to worship – to each his/her own. We were free to connect with the Spirit and present ourselves to God as we individually saw fit.
One song (quite possibly played for an hour straight) brought me to tears, as I internally examined my own relationship with God and the spiritual path I traveled, feeling vulnerable and convicted, but also empowered and liberated.
The More I Seek You – Kari Jobe
The more I seek you
The more I find you
The more I find you
The more I love you
I wanna sit at your feet
Drink from the cup in your hand
Lay back against you and breathe
Feel your heart beat
This love is so deep
It’s more than I can stand
I melt in your peace
These lyrics washed over every atom of my being. They so accurately captured how it felt to genuinely seek my Maker, without any reservations, without any outside distractions. And as I looked around through tear-filled eyes, I couldn’t help but think, “This is what it means to love God- here of our own free will to follow Him, to worship Him, to love Him, to have Him dwell in us.” It’s intimate. It’s personal. It’s judgement-free.
Yet when I left the walls of the church, and took a look around, my countrymen would have others believe that being a Christian isn’t a personal choice, an intimate experience, or a relationship without judgment. My countrymen would have others believe Christians spread the gospel through policies and legislation. My countrymen would have you believe that to know Christ is to force specific religious beliefs1 – despite their contradictory nature to what Christ stood for – on others to oppress, suppress, and ostracize those who do not fit their criteria of what is moral and righteous. My countrymen would have you believe that Christianity is a political power play instead of a beloved religion of choice by the believer. My countrymen would have you believe that religious isolation will make this country better.
But when I think of Jesus and His teachings, I don’t think of politics, alienation, control or hatred. I think of him as my homeboy an extraordinary being who embodied the true meaning of LOVE. He spent time with society’s bottom of the barrel – those deemed evil, undesirable, and unworthy. He showed compassion, love, and mercy to everyone He encountered. Jesus led by example through His actions and deeds. People chose to love and follow Him because they could see the goodness of God through His deeds.
To be a believer of Christ is a personal choice, one that cannot be forced or commanded. And despite what many of my countrymen might say to the contrary, no amount of laws or political influence can save the souls or make righteous any (wo)man.2 It’s the churches responsibility to help put a believer on the right path, not the government’s.3
As a believer of Christ, I find it absolutely reprehensible to support or promote policies or legislation that does the exact opposite of what Jesus would do – to love, accept and meet people at the point of their need. I’ll NEVER support anti-gay rights, anti-women’s reproductive rights (including abortion), anti- [insert any host of issue that is supposedly about morals here] – laws grounded in ignorance and hate, not in God’s love. I’ll NEVER support policing people’s personal lives that may not agree with religious doctrine. Because these laws won’t make anyone a better person or a better Christian, and supporting/promoting them doesn’t validate one’s moral status.
Christianity shouldn’t be a government-led crusade, but rather a personal journey with a collective purpose. I just pray my country learns to lead by example, as Christ did. I pray my country learns to love their God without acting Godlessly through hate, ignorance, and fear.
Am I alone in this? Does one nation under God mean we must spread the gospel through government force?
Separated by church and state,
~Gem, the Perplexed Disciple
1 Of course, only convenient beliefs. There’s no ban on, say, eating pork for instance…
2 Not that I, for one second, believe that these so-called righteous bastards politicians are truly doing God’s work in their absurd political moral crusades. It’s only smoke and mirrors. But sadly, it’s working.
2 I won’t even go into the church trying in its own way to dominate people’s lives. But fundamentally, I think it’s important for the church to operate in the same love and peace as Christ. Not to condemn, but to set free.