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You hear it all the time, "I would rather be in the outdoors thinking about God, than being in a Church thinking about the outdoors." I understand the thought, but honestly, are the two at odds with each other? If God is, who He says He is (and He is), isn't He is exactly the same in both places? And if that is the case, how does this statement strike home with us?

As a avid Outdoorsman this statement has always intrigued me. It also called me out, as I have been "that guy" at church thinking about the testosterone filled bugles of a monster bull elk, while sitting through a Sunday sermon. Although I don't dare to speak for you, I can offer some incite as to why this statement hits home with me.

The first thing I point to in my own thinking, is the misrepresentation of what CHURCH is. We have all grown into a culture that paints church to be building rather than whats inside the building. Just the proposition "sitting in church," gets it completely wrong! Ephesians 1:23 defines the Church as the Body of Jesus through His Spirit. Meaning that we, Christians ... The apprentices of Jesus... are the Church. He is conforming our spirit to His, so we can start thinking like Him--thoughts that exist in reality. In other words true thoughts that lead to true deeds. Realize I said that "lead,"

implying that it isn't fully completed yet. "Church" happens, when this happens among His people.

If the Church is Jesus' body on earth then why do we feel like we want to be somewhere else? There are several reasons I have found...lets ponder a few.

1. The church is to concerned about the "church" and not the Church. We, especially outdoorsman, know when something is genuine or not. In to many cases its sadly true that congregations are just a self serving entities.This cast a horrible shadow on congregations of people who are genuinely trying to serve the Lord, and makes us skeptical of all institutions of the Church. But, in many more cases it is not, its just misconstrued. Remember what the Church is...Humans filled with God's Holy Spirit, but humans. For some reason its always easier to point at peoples (congregations) faults than all the good that comes from them. Once I stepped back and looked at why I was thinking, what I was thinking, I had to admit I was appealing to the negative rather than the positive, exactly the same thing I was using as an excuse to keep from connecting to The Church.

2. I was treating the Outdoors like religion. The very thing I was accusing the institution of the Church for, I was doing...God can only be truly know through the outdoors (alluding to, I have nothing to learn in church), but if this is totally opposite of what God has to tell us in Eph 3:10 -- Somehow the Church (humans, being fixed by God's Spirit) is His tool for making his wisdom known. Real Church is messy, because we are messy, but Jesus uses this mess to show himself and by doing so bring Glory to Himself. Through all of our arguments, worries, and imperfection Jesus pulls us to him. The contrast of the love, joy, peace, patience and kindness, outweighs all of the darkness if you're willing to open your eyes to light. Walking in the light isn't trying to be good, its recognizing the one who is good. To dwell anywhere else is darkness. Some of the most powerful realizations of Jesus' existence I have ever seen, came from supernatural reconciliation of people within the Church, and I would have missed it if I hadn't gone to church.

3. Lastly, but most importantly, I! You read that right.... I. You see when we ponder the above phrase, we have to realize that the premise of the phrase is no longer God's will, but thy own. "I would rather" fails to ask what would God rather? Now don't get me wrong here, I have had some amazing interactions with Jesus on the mountain, but that's not the only place he wants me to converse with Him. He is the one who created the body. no where does it say, "the lone ranger and I," but rather He created a Holy Nation (1 Pet 2:9), and Nation requires people. If we are going to a body joined together (Eph 4:16) , than we have to be Joined other words be the Church.

These realities have changed my life, If it weren't for the Church I wouldn't know the supernatural Love, Grace, and Sacrifice of Christ as well as I do.

So the Next time you feel like you aren't seeing God from the pew maybe your acting a little like me and you aren't focusing on all the light that's all around you. If you need a reminder maybe you can come find me and we can remind each other to look for it...I'm the guy in the Firstlite Hat.

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