It has been the story of my life that the more I knew my own truth, the more I tried to live my truth faithfully, and the more open and trusting my relationship with God became – the less I could find any sense of belonging within conventional church structures. God calls me into my own truth, and into independence. Authority has to be genuine, as Christ’s authority is – and knowing this to be true within me is what makes me follow Christ. It’s not the church that can light that fire. Jesus is who I follow. And I think sometimes the church gets confused about that. Church can be the medium, but God is the reason, the beginning and the end. If the connection cannot be made within the church, God will find other ways.
And maybe I need to stress this point: I really wish I had a spiritual home in the church – why else would I struggle so much, invest so much energy into these processes, into these controversies, if I didn’t want to be there?
Yes, I’m angry with the church, and yes, I’m very often disappointed. But I’m still here. I’m still asking for the place God wants me to have. I’m here because I want to serve God. I want to serve God’s people. I believe in God’s love for everyone, God’s unconditional love that is wider, deeper, broader than we could ever understand or imagine… I am a disciple of God. I follow Christ. I’m here. Give me work to do. I have plenty of gifts and skills and I’m willing to put them all at your disposal to bring the good news to everyone. I’ll tell them all, “you’re loved, you’re wanted, come as you are”.
Doesn’t the church want people who have found a measure of confidence in their own worth, who stand up for themselves because God told them they’re good and loved and wanted as they are? I know what resurrection means, I’ve been there. And that’s why the authority in my life is God. I trust God more than the church, and it’s a blessing that I do – otherwise I’d think as little of myself as the church does.
When I have questions and pray about them, most of the time God answers me with “what do you want?” God sends us back into our own truth, and says, “I said yes to you from the beginning, to all of you. I say yes to you every moment of every day. I want the fullness of your life for you. You are precious in my eyes, and I love you”. It matters what I want. It matters how I feel. We all spend our lives trying to figure out what exactly it is that we want. Me very much included. God teaches me to love and honour myself because God loved me first.
Imagine this conversation. God and I looking at each other, happy to be in each other’s company. And then I look at the church and say, “I love being here so much, in the presence of God. I want to be here always. Can I help to show others just how incredibly good it feels to be so loved by God?” And the church looks at me, wide-eyed and insecure, and says, “ah, well, now, hang on a minute…”