What is your interaction with other believers like in your congregation? When I worked on the front counter of the local post office, I frequently encountered cliche’ questions like, “How are you doing?” With rare exception, the questions were simply fulfillment of social responsibilities of being polite. We were instructed in our cultural education to greet each other with a pleasant pretense of concern for each others’ welfare.
The rare exceptions were in the cases of people asking how I was doing because they cared. The others were simply using a fancier version of “Hello.” The question, “How are you?” had a question mark at the end of it, but was not really a question. If you really answered it, the person didn’t know what to do next.
The really unconscious people asked the question the second time if I responded with, “I am fine. How are you?” That went, “Hi. How are you?” “Fine, thanks, how are you?” “Fine. How are you?”
Being an unbearably sarcastic type, I would lean over to them and make the fourth pointless entry in the dialog: “Fine! How about you??” which usually was worse than answering the question with a real answer in terms of the response it produced…
Somewhere between a hypochondriac’s 30 minute list of ailments and the lie, “OK,” is the type of real answer that might sound like, “I am struggling with how I am going to pay the light bill,” or “I am worried about my daughter’s lack of faith,” or “I am discouraged at work.” Real answers are reserved for real relationships.
The actual Church is made up of real relationships. It is not made of congregations that have government authorized clergy and buildings that are impressive or services that have beautiful music and moving speeches. Those are places that the Church might in fact be found, but not on the basis of anything other than the real relationships you may have there.
The encounters that you have with believers who you know love you are the place where you can expect to work together to reveal to the earth what the culture of Heaven is like. Invest heavily in those relationships and that work. Continue to meet with the cliche’ crowd if the Spirit leads you to, but don’t expect the Life that you need to arise from that environment. The Life comes in the relationships.