He Matters More

To a lot of people active in their churches, I might be classified as backslidden: I haven’t attended a local church service for about 18 months now, although I do go to the ladies’ group as much as I can, and I watch sermon podcasts…of another pastor in another church. Actually, lately, of 3 other pastors in 3 other churches.

And yet, I have no guilt. It somehow brings me back to my early days of faith, when my parents wouldn’t let me attend a church that didn’t belong to the family religion (and would find my bible and hide it where I can’t find it, so I save up for new ones). Back then, what fed my soul were sermon broadcasts from a Christian radio station — I “grew up” on Greg Laurie, Raul Ries, and Chuck Smith, with doses of Mike Warnke, Isaac Air Freight, Carman, Russ Taff, Twila Paris. . .

It was a simpler time for me, when only one thing mattered: Jesus loves me.

When I got the chance to get actively involved in Christian churches . . . I loved it, don’t get me wrong. To finally be able to sing out loud, pray with people, give of myself. . . it was a different family, and I enjoyed blessing and being blessed.

But somehow, after maybe 20 years, I got tired.

No, wait. Not tired. Old.

No, I’m not being a smart-ass. If I may borrow the words of John the Apostle, from the 2nd chapter of his first letter in the bible (NIV):

 12 I write to you, dear children, 
   because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. 
13 I write to you, fathers, 
   because you have known him who is from the beginning. 
I write to you, young men, 
   because you have overcome the evil one. 
I write to you, dear children, 
   because you have known the Father. 
14 I write to you, fathers, 
   because you have known him who is from the beginning. 
I write to you, young men, 
   because you are strong, 
   and the word of God lives in you, 
   and you have overcome the evil one.  (from biblegateway.com)

Right now, only one thing matters to me: Jesus loves me. Through Jesus I am forgiven, accepted, loved, cherished, and being made whole. It isn’t that ministry or spiritual warfare don’t matter — it’s just that, as Larry Crabb wrote in Finding God, God matters more.

God matters more.

And I am finding that being alone with Him again helps me remember that better, and see that, in spite of all that I still am, that’s really what my heart is crying out to say:

God matters more. To me.

And so, again, I have withdrawn, this time of my own accord, and not a forced withdrawal like when I was 16. I withdrew from the local church, but not from The Church, the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ. I still meet with Christian friends, and we laugh together, eat together, open up about our struggles, scold if needed, encourage when needed — hug and hold each other. Someone told me I should go back to attending church services because of the Hebrews 10:25 exhortation, but I find that these little get-together with my friends from my early Christian years meet that verse even better than the local church ever did. . .

I am not criticizing anyone. I’m just . . . feeling old, I guess. Like somehow, the “young man” stage of my Christian walk is over, and even if I’m only 43, I wanna walk the rest of my life with just one thing in my heart:

Jesus matters more.

And honestly, that’s all I can really tell people too. Jesus matters more. And yet, God gave Him up for us. For you. For me. Jesus gave Himself up for us. For you.

For me.

I don’t think I’ll ever figure it out — how Someone who matters infinitely more than I do would say I matter to Him. I matter to God and Jesus so much that Christmas and Easter happened, and on Pentecost, His Holy Spirit came to stay and be with me.

I’ll never understand.

And I hope I never stop being grateful and start taking it for granted.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

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