I am soft right now. Really almost delicately fragile. My life has been broken in so many places and glued back together-sometimes very well, sometimes haphazardly. I feel like even my broken places have broken places. I am not very good at this whole church thing. Don't get me wrong-I LOVE my church. It is my family and like any family, it has its ups and downs. I am not limiting myself to my church when I talk about the church thing-I mean that corporately..churches collectively.
My problem is that when someone knows I go to church, they have a perception of me. That perception is either that I have all my ducks in a row, that I am 'good' now. OR they think I am a judgemental hypocrite that THINKS all of my ducks are in a row and I think that I am better than everyone else. Of course, neither of these is true at all. The truth is that I am forgiven of my sins by a loving savior that wants EVERYONE to belong to Him. AND the good news is that I don't have to be good enough because HE is.
I am ashamed of all the times I have made God look bad or attempted to judge on His behalf. I am ashamed that churches are full of people like me who hold ourselves up as examples and then blow it BIG TIME.
So, church has given God such a bad name that I am ashamed. I am ashamed that people have been rejected by some churches because of their sins...when the Bible is clear that we all have sin and always will. Very clear that we can never do enough or be good enough without the forgiveness and power of Jesus Christ to cover our sins with His sacrifice.
I am ashamed that the number one message all through the Bible is that the greatest command is to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself...and yet, I very often don't feel loved or accepted in the company of many Christians. Instead I feel less than and unlovable...not quite good enough. I am ashamed that I give anyone that kind of power to judge me when their opinion doesn't mean a thing to God-after all, THEY are also a work in progress. I am ashamed that sometimes I judge other people's life when I don't even know them.
I am ashamed when 'doing church' becomes a routine-like punching an attendance card, service card, smile and wave-and then I am off the clock and free to do what I want. I am ashamed when someone leaves our church because they don't feel like it 'fits' them anymore. I am ashamed when someone comes to our church because their old church didn't feel like it 'fit' them anymore.
The hard truth is this, churches will always be flawed because they are full of people. There will always be hurtful churches because there will always be hurtful people. (Hurtful people are usually people who are hurting.) There will also be people who aren't hurtful people-they hurt me by mistake. There will be people I hurt that forgive me. There will also be loving people who pray for me when I don't feel like I can pray for myself. There will be people who love my children as much as I do. There will be people who bring food to my family because they love us. People who invite me to things because they want to know me better...people who don't invite me to things because they know me. ( ; People who simply don't like me. People I simply do not like. People who get on my nerves so bad I scream (on the inside). People I annoy so much, they scream (on the inside).
The good news is that all of this imperfection causes me to become a better person...IF I ALLOW IT. It is easy to love the people we like. It takes God to help you love someone you can't stand.
SO, that is where I am wishy-washy. Even though churches have hurt people very badly and they probably will continue to, I have to defend them. I would not be as far along as I am in my walk with Christ if not for churches. Even the church that was full of married people having affairs left and right that I attended briefly. (Their sins were no worse than mine.) Every single group of people I worshipped God with helped me to mature into a better person.
I won't ever be perfect this side of Heaven and the rest of God's church won't either. AND who knows, maybe someday the world and I will accept that and get our focus off of PEOPLE and get it squarely onto God where it should have been all along.