- Posted August 5, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
Do People Still Believe In Organized Religion?
There was a time when I rejoiced in church, taking great pleasure in raising my voice in song while seated with other choir members, attending church functions, having much needed heart to heart talks with church leadership to obtain spiritual guidance and overall just enjoying the camaraderie of people that believed and worshiped just like me.
Without going into the specifics of why, I found myself in the position of leaving the church. I left with a broken heart and a new found perspective of what organized religion truly meant. I tried to find another church to hopefully replace the one that I had lost, and after several years of searching, I realized that there wouldn’t be another church…at least in my immediate future. I had lost my belief in organized religion as I knew it, but not in God as I understood Him/Her.
One of the things that became crystal clear to me is that in the midst of scandals and perhaps faith misplaced, people were looking for a way to get to God and enjoy a deeper, spiritual relationship with Him/Her. For years, that meant going to church, listening to the much needed sermons, paying your tithes and with that hopefully, you came away with a better way to live your life.
But in the face of highly publicized failings by some church leadership combined with the infallibility of human nature, people are looking for something more. People are not giving up on church as much as church is being forced to change.
Now while I can’t speak for every single church goer, I can speak from my own personal experience. I want a personal relationship with God. I know that He/She wants me to rely on Him/Her. Trust is paramount. Obedience is needed. But understanding God with the heart and mind plays a vital role in our devotion. We want to know God better because what we know of Him/Her so far is so great. We have come to understand that knowing God means feeling God, and for some people, that may not include church. For others it does.
Look at the explosion of mega-churches where worship is not only a place to be for an hour or so on Sunday morning; it is an event. Equally and not to be dismissed are contemporary worship services where people can actually feel God. And from some perspectives, it appears that the days of boring worship services are falling by the wayside, replaced with something that had been missing all along…the ability to feel the love in the room. And we all know that it is easier to carry love with you when it is felt. It is easier to carry it in your heart when you get a powerful dose of it from people that is striving to know what love truly is.
Worship has changed over the years. Various expression of loving God is now deemed acceptable where just ten years ago, it was unheard of. Many of us are moving into a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God because this is what we need. We want to understand Jesus, the Holy Spirit as well as God Him/Herself because we as human beings acknowledge our imperfections. We are far from perfect and we see manifestations of our imperfections every day. We know how to treat each other in theory, but it isn’t in our nature to do so. We know love, equality and fairness is the correct way to be but we fail because our egos get in the way. And for this, we need God.
As for me, I will always need God. This has been written on my heart a long time ago. What I do not need is man with his imperfections telling me how to worship Him/Her. Perhaps I will find a place to worship God in the near future. Maybe not. I simply don’t know.
But for millions of us, we will continue to go to church on Sundays and get that much needed infusion of God’s love to carry us through to the following week. And in that, maybe…just maybe we will learn how to truly love and cherish each other the way that Jesus did.
~ J.L. Whitehead