I know I can’t speak for everyone, but I think many of us have had times where we are just going through the motions of church. You know, when we shout “Amen”, or say “God bless you”, and all that basic Christianese simply because we know how and when to. We may even hit a point where we would not even dare to miss a Sunday or mid-week service because it’s so normal, but in reality, we are just showing up cause it’s part of our schedule. Sadly, sometimes a genuine relationship with God doesn’t exist during these motions. And during these times, maybe you go without praying for months unless you’re hanging out with someone and were forced to pray for your food, or maybe you can’t remember the last time you read your bible or spent any time with God. If you can relate to this, you may have had, or you may be in, a season of “playing church”. Now, “playing church” is in no way a good thing. We all hate the hypocrite until we become the hypocrite. “Playing church” feeds the exact stereotype that we should be trying to eliminate as believer: the stereotype that all Christians are hypocrites.
First off, to address the title of this blog, I am in no way saying “playing church” is an okay thing to do. What I am saying is “playing church” is bad, but it could be a lot worse. How can it be worse, you ask? It’s worse when you no longer see it as “playing church”, or when you no longer view it as something wrong. It’s worse when “playing church” has become the norm.
When we come to know Christ, we also come to know this friend-enemy known as conviction. Conviction is a friend-enemy because it keeps us in line but let’s face it, we don’t always want the accountability. Despite this unwelcoming feeling, we all need some conviction up in our lives. Conviction in my life, for example, has saved me from a lot of things in life and for that I am grateful. My biggest mistakes took place when I was no longer convicted, but instead made excuses to justify what I was doing. If you still have conviction, you are in a good place. If you no longer have conviction, that is when the real problems start! When something you once viewed as wrong starts to be okay with you, you need to re-evaluate some things.
Looking back on my life, I saw that I started losing conviction when I began basing my convictions on the world's standards instead of God’s. Listen, what the world tells us is okay is very different from what God says is okay. I cannot blame my mistakes on anyone but myself, but I will say that I remember being in my early twenties and having strong convictions about certain things in my life. After some time, I started to see that some of my Christian friends had started diving into certain things, and I took it as a sign that said “if they can do it so can I”. I was putting truth to their actions instead of finding truth in what God said. It was only a matter of time before I made the mistakes they made, and made some that were a lot worse. I used my friends as an excuse for my actions and my choices when in reality, they were not the ones who made those choices for me. I let my conviction slip because I cared about doing things my way and not God's way. I once heard someone say that we as people often think of God as this restrictive God, and that as Christians we have so many restrictions. In reality, however, God is not being restrictive, he is being protective! God knows what is good for us and what is bad, what will grow us and what will harm us, and what will bless us and what will burden us. He is not restricting us from the sins of the world, he is protecting us from the things of the world! Sometimes it’s not until after we mess up and get into a mess that we see what God, or Godly people, were trying to protect us from. They were trying to spare us the heartache, pain, and the aftermath. Now, we can all get up from our heartache, pain, and the aftermath, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be hard to get up. In these moments, conviction comes in and should not be viewed as a friend-enemy, but just as a friend. Conviction is the friend that wants the best for you because it knows what the best life for you is.
We often like to try and silence conviction. However, if you continue to silence conviction over and over again, it will lead you to a point where you might not even feel it anymore. If you are there I urge you to pray for conviction. Begin looking to God's word again as your standard and forget the standards of the world. I fear to ever be in a place in my life again where I feel no conviction for the things I am doing wrong. Not having conviction is a scary place and I don’t want to go back there. I want to live worthy of the calling I have received. I want to rest in God's protective love! If you feel like you are making excuses, please stop making them and surrender those excuses to God! Deep down you still know what you are doing is not right. Please choose God's way. Please ask for conviction. Grace is a beautiful thing that can restore us and renew our conviction. If you have let go of conviction, pursue Christ and I know it will be restored. For me it took going back to the basics: reading my bible and spending time in prayer. When we do these things, we will be reminded that our identity is found in Christ and we will start to realign our desires with God's desires. “Playing church” is terrible, but when you start to believe that’s how it is for everyone, you need to run to God’s word, run to your prayer closet, and return to your first love! I have been falling in LOVE with God all over again and it is the greatest love I have ever felt! I am eternally grateful that his love and grace are greater than my title!
And trust me, his love and grace are greater than your title too!