The Church

The church Joshua’s family attended made plans to get a scanner installed. It turns out they would lose their tax-exempt status if they didn’t comply. They acted quickly and put in an order.

At church, Joshua was starting to feel like an outsider. On one level, they were like family. They had known Joshua since he was little. They did service events in the community. They were good people. Why did he not feel like one of them? Why did the plan to have the scanner installed make him feel sick to his stomach?

Pastor Jonathan spoke on the Feeding of the Five Thousand that Sunday; it was his Thanksgiving sermon. He said that we need to share with those in need. Joshua’s thoughts wrestled. There’s nothing wrong with sharing with those in need. God wants us to take care of the poor. “Why do I find this sermon so upsetting?”

With the service still going on around him, he thought about what happened at the feeding of the 5000 and came to some conclusions. Jesus displayed His glory. He showed how He could provide. He showed His power, His compassion, His care for His disciples, pushing them to learn a little more about who He was. If they hadn’t been willing to trust Him and obey, they would have missed the miracle. They would have sent the people away from Jesus. Joshua wanted to tell people not to back down, not say it’s impossible, and never think there was only one option. There was always a choice. At the same time, it’s a non-choice. The only choice is loving, obeying, and trusting Jesus. Jesus is the only choice of a believer.

He knew what was bothering him. The church acted like they had to get the scanner, like there was no choice. It was a lie and Joshua knew it. It boiled in him. He had to say something.

The service was ending, and after the congregation sang the final song, Joshua stepped out into the aisle and headed for Pastor Jonathan, who was positioned to greet everyone as they left. He pinched himself and blurted, “God will take care of us if He is our Father. Acting like we can’t trust Him is saying He’s not our Father. We don’t have to obey the government. We have to obey God.”

Pastor Jonathan was caught off guard and didn’t have a response. “Well, yes. Go in the peace of Christ.”

The peace of Christ. Joshua was riled up on the inside. He wasn’t sure if he was at peace or not. He didn’t know what he thought about a lot of things. He found his family and joined them.

Joshua’s mom leaned in, “What’s gotten into you? What did you go say to him?”

“Nothing. I just wanted to say something about the sermon.”

“What?”

“Nothing.”

“That’s not true.”

Joshua shuffled his feet, knowing she was right and that he had to tell her. “I said that we can obey God and trust him instead of obeying and trusting the government.”

“You know Pastor doesn’t talk politics in church. This isn’t the place for it.”

Joshua thought maybe she was right. He was unsure about everything. He didn’t know if God was answering his prayer to get to know Him or if he was going crazy.

He was still feeling desperate to know God and know what God wanted from him. He only wanted God, not church, not religion. Church didn’t answer all his questions. He needed God to talk to him but still felt at a loss as to how to hear God tell him what to do.

Walking past the door where the scanner would be installed, he knew the day would be quickly forced on him to decide what he thought about it. It occurred to him that Jesus was always fighting with the religious people in the Bible. Jesus was a rebel to the religious establishment. If he was going to be like Jesus, would he have to rebel too?