I’m sure many mature singles can connect with me on this… and perhaps several others too… Everywhere you go, you seem to be the single wheel… Everyone else has somebody with them – a boyfriend or a spouse and perhaps even more of a blessing of children. Being a believer from a family of another faith, made me feel even more alone during the Christmas and Easter seasons… year after year.. I so had a longing for belonging!
I kept asking the Lord where is my family? I kept quoting back Psalms 98:6 from the NIV…
“You set the lonely in families.”
The Lord kept telling me, “My family are those who hear God’s Word and put it into practice and those who do the will of the Father” (Luke 8:21, Matthew 7:28). So, in my longing for belonging, I told myself, “Surely, it must be the CHURCH… Yup, bingo! I got it.. that’s God’s family”. So I approached a building that said “CHURCH” on it.. It had it’s own name, but they said and did “Christian-ese” stuff.
So there I was.. INSIDE, not OUTSIDE! Yippeee… But… it wasn’t long before I went, “Oh ohhh..” My very first meeting with the “head” went wrong… it went so wrong that I started off with a black mark on my record. I answered a rhetoric question in the negative, not the affirmative. Seriously, it’s not my fault! I didn’t march upto the head’s office to make a complaint… The question was posed to me, and no, I wasn’t going to lie and I did gently and reluctantly answer, “Sorry, pastor… I don’t really think so!” Well I later found out, CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM is a no-no in a shame oriented, hierarchal structure. The very next Sunday service, the same question was raised at the pulpit… and thank God for the “Praise the Lord, Yes, Amen” sing-along follow the leader – leader parrots in the congregation. It only takes a few loud voiced members in the congregation to make up the majority I learnt. Deemed to be put on the outside.
Well, for a while, I was accepted, embraced.. as long as I did all what was asked of me in the never ending exhausting activity after activity, “hey we’re really worshipping the Lord, can’t you see us? can’t you hear us?” Sunday services. Yet the moment I said no to the things that I was convicted that was not in line with God’s ways as outlined in God’s Word, I was the outcast, I was not the good member… (to be honest, I had a chuckle ever so often on how they would impose things that contradicted each other!! By this point I knew not to speak up, because it would fall on deaf ears anyway… The story never made it correctly by the time it went up the hierarchal ladder from the ordinary, well, not good members like me. Phew, I’m glad I’m MIGHTY SPECIAL in the eyes of the One who HIMSELF created me!)
Well tough luck! My first allegiance is to God’s Word because I love God with all my heart… If it is getting a bad name in the church for not following the head of the building but instead choosing the head of the Body of Christ, well so be it! Paul writes clearly in Galatians 1:10,
“If I were still trying to please men, I will not be a servant of Christ“.
Little by little, I was side-lined… to the point that this enthusiastic member who very rarely missed a Sunday service and was involved in the ‘church’ ended up becoming a pew warmer – not by choice but by force. I wasn’t even good enough for ushering… I acquired a new name, baptised by the church so that others would avoid me – it spread like wild fire – I was ‘mental’ or ‘nuts’. Hmmm… talk about going to a place to grow in the Lord where you hear sermons that are mostly not in line with God’s Word… and you are rejected and never really cared for – it was their agenda that was what was important. (Phew thanks to my Good Shepherd who loves each and every one of us, regardless of how we stumble because unlike man he sees the heart).
And to think 1 Corinthians 12:21-25 says,
“And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”
No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary…
But God composed the body,
having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body,
but that the members should have the same care for one another.”
Wow… that encourages me… to know that the building operation wasn’t the way that God had clearly expected it to be like! Anyway, despite all the discrimination and labelling and rejection and prejudices, I stuck on… Why, my longing for belonging continued. Also, I figured, family sticks by no matter what, right?? Nope, it was never fulfilled. I was always standing on the outside watching inwards.. although I would reach out to those who were lonely and hurting… I was giving..
In fact, I had also noticed that when it came to achievements of the ‘favoured ones’ in terms of family or in terms of those who agree without disagreeing – it was announced and a big deal would be made of. Yet, even when I answered all my questions correctly at the church bible quiz (no one else had done so), it was simply hushed … When others went on even the shortest of missions trip, it was celebrated, but when it came to me (of course God kept opening doors for me to serve outside of this little kingdom), they didn’t want to know. When I graduated with my masters from Bible College, they put an announcement in the bulletin that they pray that God will start to use me for His Kingdom… and for a birthday when I had invited the head and its neck over, the gift was a book for a ‘new Christian’!
Wow… hit below the belt.. I cried out to my Heavenly Father…this was a ‘milestone’ birthday at that too. God kept reminding me that not all who say, “Lord, Lord” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven and reminded me out of the 10 spies who were all leaders and all from the chosen generation only TWO (Joshua and Caleb) were of a DIFFERENT SPIRIT.
Well, since by actions (if not by words) the head had told this humble feet, “I don’t need you” and in fact had trampled all over this feet… I finally couldn’t take it anymore. My time alone with God at home was so much more fulfilling and I was enjoying lapping up the revelations I get by sitting at His Feet. I had fellowship with a few other like-minded Christians and was serving the Lord wholeheartedly outside the church… I realised a church that was detrimental to my growth and my callings was a church that didn’t honour God and God’s bestowing of gifts of His choice. So I made the best choice of my life… I QUIT!
No, no, I’m not saying you shouldn’t go to a church.. All I’m saying is, I would rather stay at home and worship my God and be led by the Holy Spirit to expand His Kingdom.. I don’t want to be a part of the peoples who tried to build the Tower of Babel to make a name for themselves… Because those who are led by the Holy Spirit will realise that God has placed each part in the Body of Christ for his glory… and each part is important.. None of the parts are perfect or better.. And also the Bible is clear that the Body of Christ is NOT hierarchal but equal.. The head is not man, but Christ.
However, after I quit, God has been bridging me with likeminded people all across the world whereby we connect, we care and we reach out for one another … We explore how we can partner each other in the ministries so we hold hands across the earth… all complexions, all ethnicities, with one common purpose and in the SAME Spirit. I have truly began to experience being in God’s Family. (I was always secure in God’s love and that is what kept me going despite the rejection by the ‘religious”). I’m amazed at how God connects each other… right here in this same beautiful island Sri Lanka, then from neighbouring India, and then so on and so forth spreading all over the world. Reminds me of the geographical measure in the Great Commission.. “from Jerusalem to all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the world”. “GO” Jesus said… In fact He sent them out, “two by two”.
I had begun to feel content during the ‘seasons’ by spending those days fasting and praying whilst praising God for the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ… And it was truly satisfying… Now, I have this beautiful family of God who suffer with me and rejoice with me… and likewise me with them… These are the people that God calls family.. Those who meditate on God’s Word, hear it and put it into practice… Those who value God and thus each member and bring out the roles of each member so that God’s plan would be fulfilled. The family of God are very much aware that they are on earth to go about doing the will of the Father who sent them… just like Jesus said…
May God guide our every word, our every thought, our every deed so that we go about the Father’s business.
May God bless you to be a blessing!