After a few weeks of searching, I landed at Freshwater Church, a new plant in Bolivar, and by the grace of God, I didn’t poison it with my presence. On the contrary, many of the lies I’d bit into hook, line and sinker began to be revealed for what they were, devilish deceptions.
Through the distance obtained by leaving; the humility I gained by entering into a new fellowship of believers in which I had no pre-existent identity, status, authority or say; and a severe work of the Holy Spirit in my heart, I began to realize where my issues with my former church had originated: my own self-serving, self-glorifying, self-worshipping heart.
What I had created in my mind was a church in my own image.
I knew how it should operate.
I knew how its leaders should lead.
I knew how decisions should be made.
So when reality didn’t line up with my fantasy, my ego balked, my heart hardened and I stopped seeing the church as a place where God invites us to serve one another and instead commenced to critique it through a me-centered, consumerist standard against which no institution comprised of human beings could measure up.
This time was like a rebirth.
Once I admitted this to myself and repented of my arrogance, my foolishness, my brash egotism … I could breathe again. I could pray again. I began to hunger for the word again. I began to see God’s church once again as a motley assemblage of imperfect saints drawn together not to demand their own needs be met, but rather to celebrate and model the selfless servanthood of the bridegroom, Christ, who is coming back one day to present his church, made holy and blameless through his sacrifice on the cross, to his Father.
Though I’m firmly planted in a new place now, I have since returned to worship with my former church on at least two occasions, both marked by a rekindled love for the people there, a deep and sincere respect for its leadership, and a freedom to worship that had previously been choked nigh unto death by my own sinful pride.
A revelation like this is a tough pill to swallow, but a beautiful thing. Repentance is difficult act, but a beautiful thing. However, only now, years later, am I realizing that somewhere along the way, I left out a necessary step. I’d like to take care of that today.
Church, I’m sorry.