Against my better judgement but in my typical sarcastic type of humor, on Facebook, I made some rather strong statements about church and Christians not walking out their faith (I consider myself a Christian). Although my comments contained sarcasm, they were truthful to my feelings. Then, as is the common practice on Facebook, people responded. I received some pretty forceful replies which were fine and good, I enjoy a good strongly opinionated conversation. However I do not think it is beneficial when people attempt to dismiss another person’s opinion with statements like “you’re just mislead by anger” or “sounds bitter to me” or “let’s be balanced and real”. So, I would like to step past my humor based anger to clarify my opinion about church. Not that anyone really needs to know my opinion, but I do believe there are people out there somewhere who may have a similar experience to mine and who may benefit from reading my thoughts. If you are reading this and don’t know me, my family has been walking out an extremely difficult situation relating to the health of a family member for approximately two years as of the writing of this post. Now on to, hopefully, a better expression of my opinion concerning church systems, the christians formed by these church systems and the false pictures of God created by equating church to God.
I believe there are many Christians not actively “acting out” their faith anywhere other than when it fits into their schedule in the church building or with their church. Church is simply a “lifestyle” and “love” is not a way of life. I’m not against getting together with people who are like you to have a good uplifting time (church). However, I have issue with the lack of active working out the faith, which is exactly what James, Paul, and Jesus preached against. Paul warned of the testing of a Christian’s works by fire. James demanded proof of faith by works. Jesus constantly called out the leaders of the faith for their lack of actual “doing”, (The Good Samaritan parable is an example). I have experienced the group love of being part of the church group, and it is wonderful. I have also experienced silence when I couldn’t “show up” regularly for “church” and that was not wonderful. It amazed me how quickly those friendly faces from church disappeared when I couldn’t show up to the weekly “get together”. Oh they were there at the beginning of the trial but as time moved on they dropped away one by one until there was virtually no one left. I should mention three families who remained. One lived out of town but called regularly, another lived in town and showed up multiple times to simply share coffee and talk, which was of huge benefit to my emotional health. The third family took on an active role of helping to watch our children. Oddly enough we had only known them for a short time. There was no deep rooted relationship forged through years or friendship. However, they were always available when we needed help with our children. So it turned out the very Christians I thought we could depend on basically disappeared. Whatever their reason may have been, the fact is there was no consistent action associated with their proclaimed faith in Jesus which left us with no substantial support system. Also for the sake of clarity, I have done the same thing in my Christian walk. My story and related opinion is not intended to point a finger at people, but at a system that seems to provide a lack of action in it’s constituents.
Thankfully, now I have a greater understanding of the scriptures that deal with this exact issue. By my experience I better understand the writings in the Bible that challenge Christians to analyze and call out the problems of the church. So, I have decided to openly express my thoughts even if they are not popular or may possibly anger people. That’s fine, I will be in good company with many other people who have called out the evils of church culture. Jesus promised that some will have ears to hear and some will not. I only hope that my experience and retelling of my experience can help people internalize the truth that God is not “church”. Church is fallible and broken.
To any person who may have a negative view of God because of the church. Church does not equal God. I believe many people see Church as synonymous with God. Their understanding of God is skewed by the inappropriate representation the church has offered through the years. There are very broken parts of the way we “do” church and it is absolutely okay to address these broken parts. I should clarify that there are some people who have been served well by the very same system that has failed others. While taking a good honest look at the issues with church may seem, to some, like an attack on Christianity, rest assured that we can survey the Bible to find support for analyzing church systems. However, the purpose of this post is not to analyze and correct churches but to express the point that church is not God. The fact that churches, which are made up of fallible people, can have problems, be broken, nasty, condemning, divided, racist places does NOT mean that God is the same. Also, the wide array of theological divisions among churches in no way represents the real person of Jesus Christ. And finally, you do not have to attend a “traditional” church service to be a Christian or know God.
So if church is not God then how do we go about finding God outside of church? He can be found in many different places, one of which is through the love of Christians, but as I have already expressed, often times this not an available resource. And this lack of availability should not be used to support a negative view of God. Another way to find God is through simply seeking God. Actually, the bible claims that if we seek God we will find God. Another point to consider when seeking God, do not allow your understanding or opinion of God to be skewed by anything that is not based upon love. And when I say love, I am not referring to a simplistic, feel good, goose bump, emotion driven high. I am referring to a love that is bigger than you can comprehend. When you begin to experience that, then you are on the cusp of experiencing God. Everything else is fading, passing and worthless… Faith, Hope and Love, and the greatest of these is Love… It does not matter what a theologian, preacher, pastor, teacher, saved friend or church tradition tells you. If you seek God, you will find him. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but I promise He will show Himself to you. Step one for many people is to get rid of the preconceived ideas that “church” or angry christians may have put in your way. Step back and simply let all that go. God is so much more. God, simply, is love. Seek and you will find…
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