By Curtis K. Shelburne: CNJ columnist
By Curtis K. Shelburne
What would you say if I told you that it really is possible to have a wonderful group of friends that truly are as close as family?
What would you say if I told you that it really is possible to surround yourself with a group of folks who love you so much that they are always willing to laugh when you laugh and cry when you cry?
What would you say if I told you that you can have the strength that comes from being a very significant part of the lives of people who, while they are very different in many ways, deep down share the same most hallowed convictions and beliefs and who would die rather than deny the Lord behind those beliefs?
Ah, you’re getting ahead of me now, aren’t you? You know what I’m talking about.
Are you lonely? You don’t have to be! Are you happy? You’ll be even happier sharing your joy. Are you sad? You don’t have to cry alone! Not if you’re a genuine and significant part of a church family.
I said “genuine.” If you’re a Christmas & Easter and largely politely fictitional member who no jury in the land would “convict” of membership on the basis of such hard evidence as attendance and giving, well, you’re likely to get out about what you put in. I’m talking about being a working, productive, significant, integral part of a real live Christian family. I’m talking about being part of a Body, so much a part that losing you would be for them like cutting off a finger or toe. Losing you would hurt! You’d be missed!
I know all the dodges.
Do you have to go to church to be a believer? It’s a bad question. It’s like asking me which of my legs I’d most like to cut off.
Maybe you had a bad experience in church. Maybe the preacher preached that everyone except folks just like him were condemned to hell. Or maybe you went to one that taught a “do it yourself” salvation and barely pointed to Christ at all. If you want more than that, good for you, but don’t quit! (I ate a rotten apple once. To be sure it doesn’t happen again, I haven’t eaten a bite of anything since! I’m kidding, but quitting church because of a bad experience is about that sensible.)
Yes, I’ve had some bad experiences in churches, too. Some. But the lion’s share of the most beautiful experiences of my life were in or because of church, and I’d be a pauper, and not a very smart one, if I denied myself those rich times because of a very few bad ones.
If you’re not a genuine part of a church, a real Christian family, you’re the poorer for it. Don’t rob yourself!
Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at