“Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for Her …to present Her to Himself as a glorious Church, without stain or wrinkle or any such blemish…” (Ephesians 5:25-27)
Most of us have come to a realization… the Church is made up of people – and people have problems! Christ came and died to alleviate those problems (so that we could all live “without stain or wrinkle or blemish”) but most of us are quite adept at running back to all our old problems, hang-ups, and issues. We don’t always live in what Jesus has done for us – and that leaves us prone to mistakes… you know, the kinds of things that humans do – when they are just being humans.
The problems that come with humans, lead us to another problem. Churches, filled with error-prone humans, can get pretty messed up.
This becomes one of the primary reasons why Christians stop going to church. Who needs all the drama? Who needs their patience and faith constantly tested? Who needs the struggle of working through other people’s struggles?
But it gets worse… quite a few believers tell horror stories of how someone in authority (in the church) abused that authority to harm someone within the church – or even the one telling the story. Or used their lofty position to get away with some moral inequity – or downright immoral behavior.
For all those who have been hurt by churches – you have my sincere sympathy. You were wronged by people who should have treated you right. And if they never said it, I will: I am profoundly sorry for the way you were hurt.
But, not all of God’s people are that way. Not all of them are only using faith to abuse or mistreat others. There really ARE some genuine Christians out there who love God, love people, and who seek to implement the fullness of Jesus’ provision into their lives.
To “write off” all churches because of experiences with those who were not what they were supposed to be, is also problematic. It puts us in the dangerous territory of being judge and jury over every church – even the ones who are truly doing their best to please and honor Christ. It’s one of those “baby and bathwater” things.
Think about it this way… suppose you were “busted” for using a counterfeit $20 dollar bill. You didn’t know. You had no reason to expect it was fake. But the guy behind the counter did… checked it, and discovered it was someone’s fraud.
The question is: did you stop using paper money because of this bad experience? Did the fake $20 invalidate ALL other genuine $20 dollar bills? Did you condemn the use of all other paper money because of your experience?
In truth, the fake doesn’t change anything about the real… unless we let it!
There ARE real Christians in this world – and they attend some really authentic churches. Where God is truly worshiped. Where people are truly served. Where truth is proclaimed by people of remarkable integrity.
It’s worth the effort to find one of those places. It might take you out of your comfort zone (a little bit… or a lot!) – but churches who are doing it “right” make going to church an enjoyable, uplifting, and rewarding experience.