“What words come to mind when you think of the way church was before you came to faith?” our group leader asked.
Only going to church and expecting to understand everything in the hymns and sermons is like reading the credits at the end of a movie without having seen the movie.
That’s the way church was for me. Even as an adult (with two college degrees and then some), I didn’t understand the meanings of everyday words used in a “churchy” context.
For example, what does it mean to “seek the face of God?” I think I’d choke on my coffee if I saw God’s face while I’m sitting here at my desk. Intuitively, I knew face meant something grander than literal eyes, nose, ears, mouth . . .
Going to Bible study classes has helped my comprehension. Looking up words in my massive 1980s Webster’s unabridged dictionary also helps.
For example, “face” can mean one’s judgment of something, one’s approval or disapproval. So using that definition, it follows that seeking the face of God means referring to God’s Word to find out if what I’m doing, thinking, saying meets His approval, if it’s in line with Jesus’ teachings and example.
It’s helpful that my heavy ol’ dictionary uses scriptural verses for some entries to illustrate word usage. “Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually.” 1Chronicles 16:11
Sitting in the dark reading credits is one part of the movie-goer’s experience. Going to church is one part of my Christian experience.
Church services are interesting, unambiguous, relevant.