Why do you not go to church? Did they judge you when you walked through the door? Did you not get a follow up call when you filled out the visitor card? Did someone say something hateful about your guilty pleasure? Or interpret a passage of Scripture differently than you would?
Christians are hypocrites. They claim the love of Jesus and say that they believe the great commandment, “love your neighbor as you love yourself”, but they are mean, they form cliques… Yes friends, they sin (Matt 22.39). So naturally, since I am perfect, when I walk into a church building and it is full of people who are not perfect, the logical thing is to walk out.
Because it is all about love anyway. And since they do not love me perfectly within the church walls, then I will go out and justify myself by preaching love without a concrete definition of it. But I know I can do it better on my own than with that group of liars.
How many times have you encountered this argument? I have not performed any polls, but I heard this position frequently in the Midwest. Living in the West, now, it appears a general apathy towards the Church at large, or a cynicism that faith is a crutch for the weak is more prevalent, but the issue remains: People get hurt by Christians, so they hold their grudge and choose to ignore God.
“No one invited me out to lunch today, and no one cares that I was even here. So I’ll not come back. I can pray on my own, and even listen to a podcast!”
“I don’t like how the church spends our money – why is a sound system more important than feeding the poor? I’m going to give my tithe to the local soup kitchen instead of the Church.”
“I like to gamble. But the preacher had the audacity to get up on the stage and say that it is sinful. How dare he. I’ll show him, next weekend I’ll be at the casino instead of here listening to him judge me.”
Christians are sinful people. They have been forgiven, and the call of Christianity is to die to that sin, to learn to love God above all else and to love one another as we love ourselves. But no one does it perfectly. Scripture tells us that if we say that we do not sin, we are liars (1 John 1.8)!
When I was in the sixth grade, I learned first hand that pastors are sinful because of a moral failure. My family joined a new church and six years later lost our pastor again, because of a moral failure. Since then I have watched three close friends who were in the pastorate and one missionary throw away their faith, life and ministry because they chose sin over God.
Does that mean God is at fault? If Christians suck, does that mean that God does too?
I’m writing still mulling on an article by Michael Gungor, on which I wrote yesterday. His message was on the denial of absolute truth, but his undertone was resentment towards the church because serial killers believe in God, but heretics help him when he is desolate. I wonder if that is truly the case? And I wonder if he is defining love by tolerance or by the Bible?
Is it loving to stand by while someone hurls face forward, full speed ahead towards Hell? Or is it loving to jump in their path and try to help them see the path to Heaven?
But I digress.
Anyone who has raised children knows that you cannot judge a parent by the actions of his child (especially an adult child). The most godly of parents end up with hellions some times. And sometimes the most wicked and neglectful parents end up with dynamic, kind and loving children. So why would we try to judge God by His children? All humans are sinful. They are going to hurt us and let us down. Even those who have experienced the redemption of God and who are trying to love with everything in them. They will get tired, irritable, selfish, “hangry”, or pass by you and not see you.
But God will never let you down.
The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
– Lam 3.22-23
He will keep His promises, He has never not kept His promises. He will complete any good work He has begun in you, me, or any believer (Phil 1.6).
So, dear skeptic, put down your unrealistic expectations and pride, and realize that Christians mess up too (just like you). And remember that the Church is not a museum of perfect people, but is full of those who know that they need a Savior because they are not perfect! And when your heroes, leaders, and friends royally screw up – or even abandon the faith – remember that your hope is not found in them, but in the only one who will not and can not fail.
And to the faithful church goers, remember that there are broken and hurting people coming in our paths, through our church doors, and perusing our facebook pages. Speak God’s truth in love. Embrace the repentant and help one another learn to know and love God more, making disciples and building Biblical community.
You are only responsible for you. But you are responsible for you. So let’s not ignore God if His people seem unlovely, because eternity is at stake.