Monday, May 15, 2017

A Place to Belong

In 1982 the television show Cheers was launched. Here I sit, 35 years later, with the show’s theme song running through my head.  I also remember the 35 year past tirade of an angry preacher (who had recently been reassigned by the denomination’s HQ to our little parish) warning the tiny congregation to not be enticed by an empty desire for a place where your name is known, and people are glad to see you. 

REALLY?!?  Granted the details are fuzzy this far out, but the realization of how incredulous his statements felt are as strong today as they were then. 

Even though I was new to the ‘church game’ my young heart knew better than to believe what spewed from that pulpit that day. I’ve since learned authentic truths like ‘people don’t do well when isolated’ must be sacrificed to make room for religious dogma; something I’d been introduced to back then and had begun developing an increased tolerance for. So, I tried to make myself believe the angry man. One of my professors used to say, “this Gospel is so simple you need help to screw it up”.  Let’s just say angry preacher was all too eager to help. 

Thankfully the Spirit of God continues instructing, teaching, and counseling in spite of our insistence on listening to people who have no business trying to lead people to a God they have yet to meet, via a path they've never traversed. 

Today, I am a card carrying member of our local golf course.  It doesn’t matter that I am a poor golfer. Being a good golfer wasn’t a membership requirement.  Paying the fee and following the rules is all it takes to qualify. Membership insures a place I belong, where they are glad to see me, and the computer knows my name. All of us ‘members’ have the same troubles. We are bested by a little ball and a hole in the ground. And I am fairly certain, we are happy to have a place where we can say we belong.

God knows humanity’s need for a place to belong.  It’s not a design flaw. He’s made a place for members of the human race to belong. He calls it His church. Jesus paid your membership fee. Solid members might not know your name but they know the Father loves you. They might not understand your struggle but should respect you in it.  And they might get it wrong sometimes, but established members can communicate how valuable you are in this club. Cheers!