I've been reflecting on my own need to be included. I've been thinking about this need and how it affects my self confidence, my ability to adapt socially, and most of all, the practice of my faith.
As I've mentioned, my husband and I have chosen to practice our faith in a very organic way, through a house church. This avenue works well for us, since we come from vastly different religious backgrounds. All our "traditions" are kind of stripped away, and we focus on the important things: you know... Jesus, Him being the Son of God, the Way, the Truth, the Life. That kind of stuff.
Anyway, by choosing to practice my faith outside the traditional church building, (notice I did NOT say outside the church), I'm left without something I had no idea I had relied so heavily upon: The approval of men. I don't mean men in general. I mean people who run the traditional church building. I had, I now know, become very accustomed to hearing, perceiving, and basking in the approval and/or praise of other church members, especially leaders. I relied upon this approval and the myriad of duties and responsibilities that came along with it in order to feel "included." Thus, being passed over for a leadership opportunity, even one I didn't have time for, or being frowned upon for a personal decision meant I was not included, or at least not AS included as I could or should have been. This translated into hurt feelings, lower self esteem, and even envy of those who had more "inclusion" than I, even though their lives were less "fit" by most standards.
I've been pondering a great deal on the idea that meeting my need for inclusion this way has perhaps paralyzed me spiritually. I wouldn't call myself a spiritual invalid. Not by any means. But I have to wonder if looking to the church leaders for inclusion has numbed me in some places. I have to wonder if a great deal of church members are paralyzed in a similar way.
It occurs to me that looking to a human to place a stamp of approval upon my life and my spiritual maturity as he or she perceives it, is a bit of a slap in Jesus' face. He paid such a high, high price to declare me INCLUDED in his family once and for all. He gave his life so that I could have God's approval. Why then, do I need the approval of other humans in addition to the glorious gift He gave me?
Why have I wasted my time trying to earn the favor of church leaders, especially even after becoming very acquainted with the corruptness of such leaders? Why have I looked to another human to tell me what God wants me to do? Why have I allowed other people to make up rules that limit God's ability to work in me and with me? Where might I be now if I had spent as much time exploring what GOD truly made me to be and do rather than worrying about if I were in my proper place according to the opinion of church leaders? I don't mean where, as in perhaps I would be more "accomplished." Since I also am sickened at the time I spent trying to "move up" in the circles of a denomination, when most of such movement is based solely on politics. I mean where, as in would I be closer to God had I simply learned to cling to Him alone?
I return again to a thought. A truth, really. God Himself, through His only Son, Jesus, declared me INCLUDED. He declared me precious, worthy, righteous, and one of His very own children. I AM included. Now and forever. This is the truth I will teach to our children, and pass along to those He brings my way. Goodbye to days of stunted spiritual growth due to restraints placed upon me by the ideas of men. Hello to days of letting God lead me and show me. I no longer need the illusion of inclusion. I have the real deal, straight from God.
Guess what?? YOU DO TOO!!!