The 'Church' Exists Within You
Church. That word in itself has a different meaning for each of us. The second we see the word or hear the word, an image comes to our mind. Along with that image, a 'feeling' accompanies it. That image and feeling depends on our past experiences with it and so each of us has a different reaction to it.
When someone refers to the word 'church' in a sentence, it's usually in reference to a building where someone goes to one or more days a week to meet with others and 'learn about the things of God'. The common question would be 'where do you go to church' or 'what church do you go to'? That question is usually followed by the name of a deonominational or non-denominational church within their community. People will tell you that they 'attend' that church because they usually enjoy learning from their 'Pastor' or 'Priest' and they usually like the hymns or songs that are sung by the 'praise and worship team' or 'choir'. Lastly, they will tell you that they enjoy the 'people' there and that it's a great place to get to know others and form lasting friendships with other 'believers' of that church.
However, in modern times, when you ask someone on the street what 'church' means to them, you might get a different statement or reaction. There are many people in society today who have a negative attitude towards the 'church' and those who attend it. According to statistics, the modern day 'church' memberships are declining at a rapid rate. People are 'leaving' churches due to disappointment in their expectations of what a 'church' should be. Either the pastor or people have not acted in the way that the person thought that they should or God just didn't give that person what they wanted when they did attend 'church'. Therefore, there are many people that went to church previously, who are aimlessly going through life, wondering where God really is and they are searching how to find Him on a very real 'one on one' basis.
I think it's common knowledge that people are 'spirit' beings, with a 'soul' (mind, will and emotions) and reside in a physical body. Our bodies are like the 'automobile' that our 'spirit' gets around in while we live on the earth. And because we are spirit beings, we search for the 'Creator' of our spirit just as a child wants to be close to it's parent. The problem is that we are aimlessly searching for our Creator/parent in a building called 'church' when the truth is that 'The Kingdom of God' is 'within' us. His spirit is what created us and His Spirit dwells within us, and speaks to us on a daily basis and we just haven't tuned into His voice and recognize it when we hear it. So, we turn to others such as Pastors and Priests for a message from Him, thinking that the Pastor or Priest can 'hear' him, where we think we cannot.
Ask yourself a question, 'Do you honestly think that Pastors and Priests hear God more clearly than you can? If so, then why do you believe this way? Have you ever taken time to ask your Pastor or Priest if they have directly heard from God? I can tell you from personal experience that I have asked that question to more than one Pastor and the majority of them tell me that they have never heard the voice of God. Many pastors get their sermons from books or material from the internet. Some of them get their sermons from experiences that they encountered the previous week. It's not to say that you can't learn from all of the above because you certainly can! A person can read from the Scriptures and learn how to live a blessed life. They can obtain wisdom to make choices in their lives. They can read books and internet material to teach them about the things of God and how to live their lives in a wise manner.
God spoke through the writers of Scripture to teach us His ways and to teach us how to live a blessed life. However, God speaks directly to each and every child He has every day. We don't have to attend a church building in order to be close to Him and hear His voice from someone else. As far as the 'hymns' or 'songs' that is performed within the church walls, we can enjoy that music within our own homes and enjoy the peace that music brings when we listen to it, whether it be in our homes or in our cars or on our cell phones. Music soothes our souls and causes our spirits to draw towards it's Creator/Father in Heaven, regardless of where we hear it.
If you are reading this and you are one of the people who have been either hurt or disappointed by someone or more than one person from 'church' and you refuse to enter the doors of another church, please know you are not alone. There are more people like you today than in any other time in history. The good news is that you can draw near to God right where you are. You can learn about Him and hear His voice without having to be taught by another person. You are a child of God and He has billions of them. We can all hear His voice, but just like infants, after being born, they don't know what the parent is saying to them, they just enjoy hearing the sound. It takes years of growing and listening to their parent before a child can understand what the parent is saying and speak back in the same words they have learned.
We all grow spiritually at different rates but we grow spiritually in the same way we grow physically. We start out in infancy to toddler years to elementary and then teenage years and so on. If you say you have never heard God's voice, it's just because you need to spend every moment possible speaking directly to Him and EXPECTING to hear Him speak back to you. Don't give up! He created you specifically for a deep, personal father/child relationship and He won't disappoint you. You may have been hurt by people in church, but God always has your best interest at heart because He is your real 'parent'. He is your spiritual Creator and He has been calling you and speaking to you all these years. It's up to you to 'tune in' and learn how to recognize His voice.
Don't give up on God because the 'religious' people have disappointed you or because they seem like hypocrites. Everyone sins, and just because people attend a 'church' building doesn't mean that they sin any less than those who don't attend church. Every single person, regardless of status or religion, sin every single day and going to 'church' doesn't make religious people 'perfect'. Don't look to people for your answers when it comes to God. Go to the source Himself and let Him speak 'truth' to you. Find songs that are dear to your own heart that draw your spirit towards Him and spend as much time with Him as you can. Love God first with all your heart, then allow His love to reach out to others. If you have trouble loving others due to unforgiveness, then ask your Father to show you that person from 'His' point of view. He will show you a side of them you have never seen and forgiveness will happen without even thinking about it. Forgivness started with Jesus on the cross forgiving you. That forgiveness is 'unconditional love' and if He can do that for you, allow Him to transform you so that you can forgive others. Then walk in His love and let your life be as it is in Heaven. The Kingdom of God is within you....you will find it when you search for it with ALL your heart.....