Treading the Marshes

Hebrews 10:23-25 – Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the day approaching. 

Life can be tough sometimes.  Yes, I know that’s a glib statement.  It doesn’t take much skill in observation to point out that life is difficult.  We all experience pitfalls.  Morally.  Socially.  Financially.  The question isn’t “if,” but “when.”  That’s an unfortunate reality that we all must live with, because as we traverse the fields of this world there’ll be chasms.  There’s going to be quicksand.  Like Frodo and Sam making their way through the Dead Marshes, you might be lucky enough to have a hand plunge in after you when you fall in, but there’s no guarantee that hand reaching for you is making the effort for your benefit.

Cheerful, huh?

When it comes to the church there are some who would refuse any hand whatsoever.  They shun organized religion for a variety of reasons.  Perhaps it’s because of how the Catholic Church responded to the cases of molestation.  Then again, maybe it’s people like Fred Phelps of “God Hates Fags” fame, or Harold Camping who has repeatedly, and unsuccessfully (obviously) predicted the date of the second coming of Christ.  Or maybe it’s the televangelists who bilk people for money, or the “faith healers” like Benny Hinn, whose hair is obviously the world’s most powerful conduit for the Holy Spirit.  The list goes on, but I’ll be honest.  If the trustworthiness of organized religion (and by that I mean the local church,) were decided by the actions of the aforementioned, I probably wouldn’t want to attend either.  I would shun the local congregations, stay in my pajamas, and worship God while having pancakes.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking.  Pancakes are tasty.  Yes, they are.  But are they so tasty that you are willing to short-change your spiritual life?  I’m not talking to the people who dismiss religion, and for that matter, Christianity, entirely.  I’m talking to the person who believes the Gospel, yet wants nothing to do with their fellow Christians.  Every once in a while I run across someone online who makes the argument that “I can be a Christian and not go to church.  I don’t need to go to church.”  Well, sure.  Actually, let me change my thought here.  I’m not going to say you’re not a Christian because you don’t go to church, but the question I would ask you is, “why?”  Why wouldn’t you want to join a group of people who believe in the same risen Christ you believe in, who will be there when you stumble, whom you yourself can also encourage.  We are not meant for solitude.  There is no need for us to stumble through the marshes of life alone, because life does happen.  We will fall into the murky water.  Whether or not a hand breaks the surface of that water is up to you.

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