Real Church:Does It Exist? Can I Find It? by Larry Crabb
To say this book is great is the understatement of the year. It is so thought challenging. I am in a tough church place right now. It has much less to do with my church-which is awesome-and much more to do with me. My personal struggle with church, religion, and even God are culminating into something that I never expected; a very deep appreciation of community, family and friendships.
Mr. Crabb goes into detail about being bored with the status quo-songs, prayers, sermons. He believes church has become, really has always been way too much of a spectator sport. He questions how this can be pleasing to a God that truly wants relationships. God does want relationships-with us, us with fellow believers, us with non-believers, etc.
A favorite from this book:
"Relational sin, patterns of relating that reflect an addiction to self...is a greater concern than blatant behavioral sins...Pharisees, not prostitutes, are Satan's masterpieces."
He goes on at great length describing the properties of a great church. A church that is honest, open and relevant. My church has a whole lot of the qualities. There are not alot of people claiming perfection where we worship and for that I am truly grateful. I have been a part of those kind of churches before and it is really hard to invite a lost and hurting world into such a sham! None of us are perfect without the blood of Christ...no not one!
He also goes into a whole lot of detail about our self addictions and what that means. Some choose drugs, alcohol, pornography, etc. Others choose to be people pleasers, addicted to missions, ministry, Bible knowledge or a positive attitude-described as "a pedestal of superior goodness'. All of those things are false gods-not at all the REAL God.
"I want to be a part of a church that knows we are all addicted to ourselves in one way or another, that meets as truth-hungry, formation-focused, community centered, and missionally energized Christians, all for one purpose: to hear the music that will transform us into God addicts."
I want to be addicted to God. I want to wake up craving time with Him. I want to be aware of my selfishness even when it seems to be wanting "GOOD" things that others may support. I want to be able to pass on approval from other Christians if it means the approval from God will be greater. I want to have relationships with people who will lovingly rebuke my sin and expect the same from me. Relationships that grow deeper because we want to be more Christlike and realize that while we won't accomplish it in this life-we will still be better at it through our relationships. I want to love and be loved by people who know their own struggles and also mine. I want friends who don't believe mine are worse-but truly believe sin is sin. I am so grateful for the friends that I have. The friends that are truly 'iron sharpening iron'. They are just as quick to stand up to sin in my life as they are in their own. It's the only thing that can get you by in this fallen world full of fallen people.
We are ALL fallen people. We won't fully be redeemed until Christ comes back. Some people just haven't gotten that memo.