This will be the second act to my religious trilogy of posts, the third hopefully being written on Monday after going back to church the day before.
On my mission I came across many wonderful (and not so much) individuals whose excuse in not going or belonging to a church stemmed from the belief that Spirituality was far more important than Religion. A relationship with the Divine is better than a relationship with any minister or religious creed.
Who can argue with that? That being said, my response to them was always "Yes, but the best way to increase your Spirituality and relationship with God is through Religion." Presumably the right religion, and conveniently the one I was preaching.
I guess I need to go back and analyze that Elder Austin response. I'm sure some of you are thinking "That's it! Exactly! Way to go, Austin! That's what I'm trying to say! Religion/attendance doesn't equal Spirituality! Religion/attendance leads to Spirituality! I couldn't have said it better myself!" The others (or maybe the same people) are saying "What a hypocrite!"
Because I do believe Spirituality is more important than Religion. It will matter more to God (and to myself) what I did infinitely more than who I was. However, what better way to begin my weekly efforts in striving towards perfection than taking time out of a hectic week in worship with those with beliefs similar to mine? What better way to learn to live Christ's example than study and application? Go to church once a week.
And no, I'm not suggesting a Rameumptom. I'm saying what you already know. Austin, once you start going back to church, it will enrich the rest of your life as well. It gets you started on the right path. You are filling up your cup at the eternal well, and the living water will last you the rest of the week. (Mixed/broken metaphors there, but you see where I'm going, right?)
One of the reasons why I posted what I did in my last blog entry was I was stating how I felt, and how I wanted to change.
Church bores me. I don't feel like I get any improvement or growth out of it. And I want to. What's the problem? And it's not that I'm coming with a closed heart. I'm not expecting to have my spirituality poured down my throat. Sometimes church is boring. If I ignore the fact and go, I'll soon be right back here, with you shocked that I've gone inactive again.
What I've apparently forgotten is that those three hours are not church. Or, in other words, church is not three hours of attendance. They're not a Rameumptom. We are not just supposed to show up, say a prayer, sing a song, recite "Holy holy God" in our own way and go home, ignoring our religion the rest of the week. (Well, I don't do any of that at all, being inactive. But what I'm driving at is that's not the purpose of church, now is it?) The purpose for church is realigning ourselves to our eternal purpose, our goal of reaching perfection in the footsteps of the Savior.
On my mission, we taught that church attendance is like a fire. Everyone has a branch or log, alight with the flame of burning testimony. When we bring them together, such as in Sunday worship, the fire glows brighter. On their own, the fires die out.
A nice metaphor, and I disagree. At least in regards to myself. My fire of testimony thankfully hasn't extinguished. I argue the case that my lack of going hasn't affected my beliefs one way or another. I still believe all the important things, the Articles of Faith and testimony bearing checklist. But I felt that the fire analogy wasn't accurate to my situation. In going to church, I didn't feel my torch of testimony getting any brighter or dimmer, so I stopped going.
What I didn't realize was it's not about getting your testimony torch to burn brighter, it's about using it to see where to go. Church sets you on the path to righteousness the rest of the week. You're a Christian every day, every minute, not for the time you're in the Lord's house. (Thought hopefully you're one there as well.)
It's not about increasing testimony, it's about getting back on track with God.
I need a better reason than what I have to get back to church. I don't want to go back because I fear it will be the same boring, hollow experience I've felt in the past. I don't think my "torch" of testimony will brighten myself or brighten any others by going. And while being a good example to my son and wanting him to have the Gospel may be a good reason, it's certainly not the best reason to return to activity. What I want is to want to go to church again.
But, I think I'll have to apply the lesson of Alma the Younger and just plant that faith seed. Get my inactive butt off to sacrament and Sunday school and priesthood, attend with a broken heart, contrite spirit, empty cup, alert mind, listening ears, tight-fitting suit and untied shoes, (and metal hip) and leave the rest to the Lord.