I get why people don’t like church. I really do.
Sometimes I don’t even like church.
It’s not because I feel “judged” or even out of place. It’s not because I’m forced to dress up (shoot, people…I get to wear jeans at my church). It’s not even boring to me… hearing about what Jesus has done/is doing is pretty awesome in my book. And I really like the singing part, even when it’s songs I don’t know.
Mostly, it’s because people get really mean sometimes, and people who claim to love Jesus should probably be nicer to each other (not that any of us are perfect, but you get my drift).
Several times in in the past month, I seen either the church secretary or the maintenance guy attain a god-complex (ironic, isn’t it?) and get all nasty up in someone’s face over something really pretty stupid. I’ve seen a pastor make subtle and not-so-subtle bigoted comments. I’ve seen some of a congregation jump all over another pastor who was helping the homeless because he was bringing “unsafe” or “unsanitary” people onto church property or some hogwash like that.
And yet, I still go to church.
Why? Why do I hang around the drama?
Ok… let me back up. The recent events I’ve witnessed of peoples’ arrogance have occurred in 2 separate churches. These particular churches, however, were one combined church until about 3 weeks ago. It was a Nazarene and Baptist combo (weird, right?), and they actually coexisted in the same building for about 4 years, and were lovingly referred to as “Bazarenes.” My husband and I loved the harmony we witnessed between the two denominations last Christmas when we first started going (maybe Christmas just has that effect on things). We thought, “Wow! This is what church is supposed to be!”
The tension was only climaxing, we realized later, and everything pretty much fell apart last month in a decrescendo. It was hard… almost like the congregation members were the kids and the 2 churches were mom and dad getting a divorce.
Growing up in churches all my life, none of these things are necessarily new. Hard to understand, maybe, but not new.I’m still working through this in my head, but this is what I’ve gathered so far:
1. Church splits are never fun.
2. People are people (duh).
3. Even people who don’t really love God go to church.
4. Amongst the phonies, there are people who really really REALLY love Jesus and their actions actually look like His.
5. No matter how crappy people treat other, that does not change God’s good character.
Number 5 is the most important. No matter how many bad experiences you have in a church (or elsewhere), God is still just. Still holy. Still forever loving. Still compassionate. Still fair. Still powerful. Still involved. Like a really awesome superhero… only better… indescribable, rather. This is the God that created me with his own hands, and rescued me when I turned into a rebellious little kid.
This is why I still go church. I go because I see God working in the hearts of the people, and there’s nowhere in the Bible that says I can just give up on what God is doing, and what God wants to do through me. Not only that, but the God who rescued me can rescue the big-headed maintenance man and the cold-shouldered secretary. I don’t get to give up on them, because Jesus hasn’t given up on them.
I don’t get to give up on them, because God hasn’t given up on me, and He didn’t let others give up on me either.
What if the whole reason we’re all still here on this planet is because we’re still supposed to reach out to one another like Jesus did (and does) for us?
There are a few people in the church that can be very cruel, and I wish it wasn’t that way… I really really do. But the real kicker is that amongst the hardhearted, the tender hearts shine even brighter.
Ministry is everywhere, folks… even to people in the church crowd. Maybe especially to the people in the church crowd.
Not everyone who reads this will agree with me. I know that. Churches have made many people bitter, and a lot of people don’t even like Jesus very much for what others have done in His name.
My prayer is that even when you’re bitter at church or bitter at Christians, you’ll give it another chance someday. I did.