The greatest thing you'll ever learn
Hi, Murray here. As a Christian band, we have a common goal in making what we regularly refer to as 'music that matters', or 'music that moves'. We have always believed that our music can and does make a difference, and that has been verified with an experience had by our very own manager Di. She's shared a little about that journey here...
My favourite film is Baz Lehmann’s Moulin Rouge. More specifically, my favourite part of my favourite film is captured in a single line;
‘The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return.’
OK, no earth shattering news there. I’m a girl and I like a mushy romantic film with a mushy tag line at the end (oooops! Hope I didn’t just spoil that for you?)
But is it just a mushy tag line?
We all have a need/want/desire to be loved. It’s hidden deeper in some of us than others, but we all have it.
Whether that need/want/desire is ever truly fulfilled is another thing entirely.
But it can be.
Someone asked me today for my thoughts on the church – not because I’m an expert I’m sure. More likely because I am not.
It got me to thinking…and this blog is a result of that thinking.
I was also reminded today that faith is nothing without action. To just say that I believe is meaningless. My faith has to be seen. So I decided it was time to share more of my experience - the next step in my journey after The Updraft Imperative had started to challenge me about my life and my faith.
If my story goes on to help just one person, then it’s been worth putting pen to paper.
About a year ago, a good friend of mine was brave enough to raise the subject of me attending church. It wasn’t the first time this friend had raised the subject with me. They had done so about 6 months earlier, and were met with some pretty forceful protestations that I didn’t need to go to church. Church was just full of ‘holier than thou doo-gooders’ that were going to judge me. I was OK with my faith thank you very much. I didn’t need to go to church. ‘My’ God was cool with that.
Or so I thought.
The mere fact that the good friend donned his biblical armour and faced the wrath of my acid tongue again makes me realise now that the good Lord wasn’t as cool with it I thought.
Seriously though. What difference did it make? I wasn’t suddenly going to become any more Christian by being in a church!
Many years ago, when I was still a regular church-goer, a visiting preacher used an analogy which has lived with me to this very day.
“Sitting in a church every Sunday doesn’t make you a Christian any more than sitting in McDonalds makes you a hamburger.”
I didn’t want to be a hamburger. I didn’t want to be surrounded by hamburgers – and I definitely didn’t want (or need) hamburgers telling me what a failure in life I was. I was doing a pretty awesome job of that all by myself.
There must have been a chink in my armour that day though. Because it got me thinking.
Either that or I realised it was the only way to get said friend off my case…
So I went to church.
And it was everything I had been dreading and more. Rituals, the feeling of being reprimanded, being reminded I’m not good enough, and the killer blow for me – not one face appearing to enjoy the music – despite the lyrics being one of the most powerful hymns ever written.
So box ticked. I’d been. It was horrible. I could tell my friend and that would be that.
Except something strange had happened.
Instead of feeling smug, I was a little disappointed.
My friend, and others that I had shared my trepidation with were all ‘getting something’ from going to church. Why didn’t I? What was wrong with me?
I realised I wanted what they had.
So I tried a different church.
And it hit me the very first day I set foot in there, and continues to envelope me every day since.
I didn’t recognise it at first. I knew I felt something, but what was it?
I was engulfed in a blanket of love. Love for one another, love of God, and perhaps most significantly for me, a reminder that I was loved unconditionally. Regardless of what had happened in my life.
For quite some time I feared love almost as much as I longed for it. It was a fear born of losing those I love. A fear as real as it was irrational.
So to be engulfed in love was quite overwhelming. At times if I’m honest; it still is.
Because I’ve realised that I’m not so great at being loved. But I’m working on that.
Like a lot of people, I put off going to church, because I didn’t feel good enough. I shared this fear with the minister, to which he replied;
“We are not by any stretch of the imagination a perfect community of believers, but we are trying to be an honest bunch of people seeking to follow Jesus.”
That worked for me. I can do honest much better than I can do perfection. I felt a sense of belonging – even after just one visit to this church. I am realising more and more each day that my full potential isn’t yet being realised. God has bigger plans for me. Quite what they are I don’t know yet but I do know I need to be patient – which is another thing I’m working on!
So back to the church and me being asked my opinion.
I don’t have all the answers about how to fix the church. I’m not sure that any of us do. But here’s what I think.
1 Corinthians 13 is a fairly well known and quoted verse about love…
‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’
I think everything the church needs to focus on is in those 4 lines.
Regardless of faith, I firmly believe there is a lesson for all of us in that verse.
It is, after all, the greatest thing you’ll ever learn…