Sunday, September 25, 2011

Is Faith the Same as Church?

Last night I decided I would not be going to church today. I always feel guilty about this since I grew up with a strong mandate to attend church and Sunday school every Sunday. I argue with myself about what my priorities are. If I'm really a Christian, shouldn't going to church take precedence over anything else I might do on a Sunday morning?

But I'm also a human being.

One of my unique needs is the need for alone time. I was built with a need for time away from people, time when I get in touch with myself, time to de-stress and refresh my mind and spirit. If I don't do this, I start to worry and fret and get the crazies. It's not pleasant.

This has been a week with more than my usual quota of social activities. In addition to the day job, I attended the Wednesday night supper at church with Bible study afterwards, a dinner out with friends on Friday night, and the monthly RWA chapter meeting on Saturday. These are enjoyable and two of them were also educational, but they also have a component of stress for someone like me. All I could think about last night was that, if I went to church, I wouldn't have any morning quiet time this week, I'd need recuperation time from yet another social activity (and church is a social activity as well as a worship activity), and yet another weekend would go by with household chores falling farther and farther behind.

Now, I do believe that it is important to gather together with other Christians to worship God, sing praises, and partake of the sacrament of Communion. The premise for the mystery series I'm writing is the importance of the community of believers. Sharing faith leads to growing faith.

But it isn't the same as faith. Faith is between you and God. Faith is what you feel in your heart. I found this quote from Hebrews 11:1 just now while seeking for a way to describe it:
"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."
And, regarding my "should" of going to church every Sunday, this from Galations 2:16:
"know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified."
Those quotes are a good reminder that following the rules to the letter, like the Pharisees, is not what makes you a Christian. So today I will enjoy my alone time, catch up on some of those chores, and refresh myself for the new week.
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