Church Matters

By Alex Russon / April 15, 2024

Resorting to ‘safe places’ is something all of us do since such places can feel familiar, giving us comfort. They could be homes, parks, the allotment, maybe a specific spot on a beach, even the bathroom, we all have our ‘go to’ locations when seeking peace and reassurance.

Church can be people’s safe place. We go there when life’s tough, rocking up with a prayer or two in an attempt to strongarm God into seeing things our way. Sending up a shopping list of requirements for him to endorse, and by delivering them in church we may feel there’s a better chance of ‘success’.

But the truth is that church buildings are no more reliable than toilet closets if we want to be in touch with God. He’s present in both locations, granted, but the location itself is immaterial. Our relationship should be with God in the shape of Jesus and not a place in terms of a church. We shouldn’t get fixated on buildings, altars, favourite stained glass windows and chapel pews. Our focus is to be on God himself, no more and no less.

When we feel defeated, our progress in life seems a slow wade through treacle, all of our best efforts coming to naught, at times like this we can feel persuaded to try church, asking God to rubber stamp our intentions and hopes. But simply pitching up at church isn’t the way to achieve oneness with God, speaking to and listening to him wherever we are is what truly counts. We’re to take our eyes off buildings and structures and lay them upon him instead.

Churches are worthy places, of course they are. They’re vital for faithful fellowship, offering themselves as hubs for the gathering of like minded people looking to honour and thank God. But churches themselves are merely pointers and signposts to the true location to which our hearts must search. There’s a danger that by pitching up at church we feel the job’s done, that we can piggy back off a pastor or minister’s enthusiastic fervour and this in itself will be sufficient to reach God. But no, God wants our hearts and minds directly, a personal relationship with us, we’re not to hide behind others when approaching God, we’re to address him one on one. In truth our lives have an audience of one, only he sees us 24/7 in our good and bad moments, there’s nothing he doesn’t know about us so we’re to speak with him honestly. He knows you know! God won’t be hoodwinked!

You might not like what you hear when God speaks to you, beware of that. He’s not a mascot or lucky charm, he’s not a magician, so if we think we can simply wheel him out to perform acts we’ve decided are right for our lives we stand sometimes to be bitterly disappointed. He’s not to be bargained with, we just give our hearts and hopes to him then leave him to discern the best route forward. It requires obedience, not a word many of us like, but when we’re obedient to God we can be safe in the knowledge that the consequences will always be good. He loves you, let him show you how 😊

1 Samuel 4:1-11 NIV – And Samuel’s word came to all Israel. – Bible Gateway