Meeting God in church. The realisation that you are not merely hearing words that you truly agree with. That you are not hearing “good words” – “good teaching” – insights and fresh thinking. The realisation that there are three of you talking together – that you are having a three-way conversation: the person “speaking”, your own heart speaking, and the Heart of God speaking.
Being convicted in church. The realisation that you keep hearing the same conversation across different topics, different verses, different days and services and with different people.
Meeting God in church. That moment when you review and reflect and realise. That these meetings with God have been happening at your desk, around a coffee table, over a sandwich, with people who never go to church, with people you never see in church, with people who are not Good Christians. People who (may not even realise that they) allow God to speak for them. People who may have no fear of “public speaking” because it is not they who are “speaking” in public.
Being convicted in church. The realisation that God speaks always and everywhere. With the same “message” and answer in different forms – from different people – from different platforms and in different words – different senses – different anything … BUT the same “everything”. Maybe that is conviction.
Meeting God in church. When you find out that God does not need someone to “be saved” as we defined “saved”. When you realise that God is bigger than that. Bigger than my “denomination”. Bigger than “the building”. Bigger than anything I imagine and cling to as a lifebelt in a stormy sea. When I open my eyes and see God in everyone. Even the ones I disagree with.
Being convicted in church. When I allow God the freedom of every second of every day, every sense and every brain cell, every plan and every changed plan, every conversation and every silence. Every expected reaction and every unexpected reaction. Not even just in every “Good Christian” – and not even just in ever “Bad Christian” – not even just in those who call themselves “Christian” – or even just those “of Faith” (whatever that means). But in everyone, everywhere and all the time.
Otherwise have I not just boxed and labelled God to suit my lifestyle and my living?
“Then Peter said, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life.” “ Matthew 19:27-29
Do we not yearn to have that “conviction” from God Soft Hands Jesus today – this moment – right now? And in every moment of every day and in all that we do? Because if we do not yearn for that …
How does that happen (only) in “church” – just once a week – and only for an hour?
So I pray that “the smile” we mistake for “love” is put in a box and labelled. I pray that the cranky old fart I think I am too often can be replaced by me seeing God in everyone everywhere – even “church”.
But mostly I pray this.
That I do not seek to be simply the recipient of unconditional love. Rather that I seek to BE unconditional love. Because receiving is comfortable. And that is nice. But “BEING? Being unconditional love (for me as well as you)? That is life changing. And (I believe) that IS meeting God in all things all the time and in all people and circumstances. And how can that not be “convicting”?
Because each time “we” exclude God for whatever label we think is justified (even “Christian” and even “church”)– are we not excluding the possibility of meeting God? And does that not mean we are putting ourselves in the way of God? And is that not putting God in our box and with our label?
And do we not do that as much with “smiles” as with cranky grumps?