In Ecclesiastes the narrator is address as “Qohelet” or teacher. Solomon, the probable author, is taking on an instructor role as he tackles the meaning of life in this book. In chapter five the “teacher” gives a description on worthless ways we can worship God.
Ecclesiastes 5:1-3 says, “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words.”
There is nothing more comforting to me than to be reminded that I am human and God is God. I am on earth. God is in heaven. You may have a to-do list a mile high and a prayer list even longer. Take a deep breath. You are human and God is God. He knows. He knows.
I have struggled to go to church on Sunday. I know I “should” desire to go to church even if just out of obedience. I’ve read Corinthians, Acts and Ephesians when Paul and the Apostles were giving instructions to the new Church. I’ve heard sermons on why it is important to be in church. However, there are specific reasons I stay in bed longer on Sunday mornings. These reasons aren’t hidden to me. I know what they are. I’ll illustrate some of the reasons I struggle attending church.
First, there seems to be a gap in church programming. I was active in high school youth group. I went to all the activities and even drank pop with a sock over the can. When I graduated from college and really needed a church, it was hard for me to find a small group that wasn’t actually a newly married counseling session. I couldn’t find a Bible study that fit where I was at in life. Second, I have seen Christian leaders fall. It’s hard for me to keep myself from judging the person on the stage. Third, there are so many fantastic resources online. I am always tempted to stay in bed, grab my laptop and stream a live sermon. Sometimes it seems easier to be lazy. Fourthly, I have to make an effort to create a community. If I want to have a connection with the church body, I have to do more than just show up on Sundays. I get tired of reintroducing myself. I can’t possibly be the only one thinking about these four things on a Sunday morning.
Do these four reasons sound familiar? I am sure you could add a few yourself. I’ve heard lists that include feeling ashamed, isolated, or being burned by Christians. Whatever the list is, know you are not alone.
Have you ever gone to church and the whole time you were asking yourself, “why didn’t I just stay home?” All of the reasons for staying home from church were going through my head while I was sitting in a church parking lot putting on my mascara. This was a church I was “trying out” and I met a friend there. After the service I started talking to my friend about the complaints I had about church. She shrugged it off and said, “I don’t know, I just know God really wants me a part of a church.” Having a friend, who was in the same life situation as me, was a game changer. I just needed someone like me to say God wants us to be a part of a church. God desiring us to be a part of a church should be enough of a reason to go. I realized God wanted me to be a part of a church even if I don’t feel like I have a place at church.
This sounds so simple. Can this change the awkward part of stepping into a church service?
Speaking of church services, I was in church recently, but not for a service—it was a work conference. I had been talking to a few co-workers before entering the conference. When I went to find a seat, there were no more seats left with my team. This is awkward,I thought as I stood there trying to figure out what to do next. One of my managers grabbed a chair and added a seat for me at the table. Awkward moment avoided!
Just like me not having a chair, God says, “I know it’s awkward, but you do belong here.” The enemy will create a list of reasons for you not to be in community, but God says, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22). Being a part of the Church body is part of the process of becoming holy and like Christ. Does this sound like a reason to sleep in?
“To Err is Human” as the saying goes… What if to apologize is human? How many times do we, in a day say an unkind word to a co-worker, spouse or a friend? It happened to me yesterday. I couldn’t find my black jeans. Where on earth could my black jeans have gone! My husband started to help and was making suggestions about where I could have misplaced the pants. I snapped a rude remark at him. He looked at me, stopped searching for the denim I had lost and said, “well that wasn’t very nice”. At that moment I had the opportunity to apologize or to brush it off and excuse the snappy remark as “ok” since I was frustrated. I had the opportunity to tell my husband that I see how kind, thoughtful, and loving he is and doesn’t deserve to be treated that way or I can brush it off as not that big of a deal.
The Problem with the Phrase, "Inner-Goddess"
When a friend is getting married, you find yourself running all over town looking at shoes, gowns, wedding veils, and boutiques. My good friend is getting married soon, so I joined her and her maid of honor for dress shopping in Chicago, Illinois. She found three wedding dress options and an idea for her flower girl’s beaded sash. On the way home, we stopped at a new boutique on Michigan Avenue.
On the walls of this boutique were signs with fun Southern, faith-based sayings. Phrases like, "All I Need is Jesus and Coffee" were painted onto wooden signs to be placed over coffee carts and in kitchens. This place was "all things girl". In the dressing room, there was a prayer box. I was surprised by this discovery and started chatting with one of the employees. From what I gathered, the owners know Jesus and pray over the received requests. The young lady I was speaking with seemed embarrassed to tell me this. She went on to share that it was “Okay if I didn't pray". Instead, I could “send good vibes out” for myself. Before I could stop her, she started talking about how she believed in her inner truth. She channels her "inner-goddess" and this gives her confidence in herself.
When she was done explaining, I asked her a few more questions about her beliefs. After listening and understanding a little more about her story, I shared that I wouldn't trust myself with my own "truth". From her face, I could see that she knew what I was talking about; I mean, we are two girls in our twenties. I shared with her that I stand firmly on the truth of the Bible and not on my own feelings and thoughts. I absolutely loved the conversation and it left me thinking about the term "Finding Your Truth."
Being True to Your Truth
The terms "Finding Your True Self" or "Being True to Your Truth" are sometimes used in psychology practices. This practice is used to help a patient connect to their emotions and explore who they are. In itself, this is good! It is very helpful to know who you are and what you believe in. If you don't know what you stand for, you can get into an unhealthy co-dependent relationship or feel anxiety whenever someone else disagrees with you. What we have to remember, however, is that we can't know our true selves until we personally know our Creator and who we are in Jesus Christ. God loves truth and honesty. God desires truth in the very beginning of our lives (Psalm 51:6). Scripture tells us just how well He knows us. He knit us together in our mothers’ wombs (Psalm 139:13). God desires and loves truth and He created us. How do those two facts about God work together?
Our True Self Is Not Good
God does desire truth AND He already knows who we are because he created us. Finding our "true selves" may not be that great. Going back to Psalm 51, David was talking to God about needing forgiveness for killing a man and sleeping with this man's wife. In verse 3, David says, "I know my transgressions, my sin is before me," and by verse 5, he is confessing to being born a sinner. As David is talking with his Creator about what he did and who he was, he pleaded, "restore to me the joy of your salvation" (vs. 12). He ended this confession by saying that he has a broken spirit and a contrite heart, as God so desires (vs. 17).
Truth Comes from the Creator
My husband John and I love going to art museums. I enjoy asking him to come up with the meaning behind a painting, “Why did the artist paint a dot in the upper right-hand corner?” John will go on and on with a story that is outrageous to which I laugh my head off! After he polishes up on his storytelling skills, we read the artist's intended meaning behind the painting, and that's when the painting makes sense.
Since we know from the Bible that God created us, it only seems right to find our truth, our meaning, and our identity in Him. Searching for life's answers within ourselves is like staring at an abstract painting trying to make sense of it from just staring at the brush strokes and random shapes. It is really healthy to explore who we are and to be in tune with our emotions. However, the best way to do this is to go back to the Bible, to spend time with Jesus Christ, and to hear from the Creator of our souls.