To or Of? How do you think of Church?
Church hopping is a phrase commonly used to refer to a person who goes from one church to another church with great frequency, never truly finding a home. Church hoppers are restless spirits always searching for some type of an imagined utopian community. For a time, these people find comfort and peace in a particular church but then the priest upsets them or they have conflict with another person or they don’t feel like they’re being fed, and off they go again. Searching for a new parish home in the hopes of finding what they’re searching for.
Their discontent can never be alleviated by an endless wandering, but by making a shift in mindset. If you are someone who ‘goes to Church’ it is inevitable that you’ll be on the run again soon. Rather, ask yourself if you are ‘a member of the Church’. If you go to Church, then church simply becomes one more piece in the puzzle of your life the way the grocery store, work and the movies are. But if you are a member of the church, more importantly of The Church, your participation takes on a whole new meaning. Instead of Church being in your possession, you become possessed by Her. You enter into what St. Paul calls the Body of Christ. In his first Epistle to the Corinthians the Apostle makes use of the metaphor of ‘body’ to speak of the Church itself…and how the Corinthian Christians belong to it. We hear,
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” (1Cor 12:12)
And after a beautiful discourse on how important each of those members of the body are to the larger body itself, and how the suffering of one member affects everyone else, he concludes with a direct statement that you and I are the body,
“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1Cor 12:27)
When we have this mindset about Church membership, it’s easy to see why we don’t church hop. Church isn’t just a place I go, it’s the body of Christ that I am a part of; the body of Christ that possesses me and in which my salvation is fought for. Then we work with our priest, even if he upset us, we make peace with our fellow members even when we have conflict and we become creators and implementers of ideas that feed others rather than just looking for what the Church can give me.