I’ve so very many friends on both extreme ends of this issue that I thought it time to write something a bit more on the issue/S.
Yep, issueS. The local church, denominational church, fully independent, the you-name-the-link-to-other-fellowships-or-not, and even you fully non-traditional-and-or-hip-gatherings-of-believers-regularly folks.
We all have ’em. Issues, I mean. So do those who never in any sense believed. And every group of them. Some sins are made public, some never are. Some of my/your sins… well that’s another subject because some of you either don’t believe there IS such a thing as sin in the Christian idea, indeed Christ’s obvious concept of it… but some sins (as the scripture states as well) are discovered while we live on this planet and others will be faced later on.
Then again all believe fully in sin because all humans call out other humans on what is right or wrong, just or unjust. Oops! Looks like even people with zero faith in God or Christ believe in a sin ethic ‘eh??!
The concern for a safe place of comfort and zero confrontation is a myth. Man-made myth.
Consider how you and I silently judge people every day. We do it when we watch/read/listen to ANY news source, perhaps aloud with a neighbor in the coffee shop or friend or simply acquaintance somewhere. We do it inside any type of “church” assembly and we do it with best friends and small groups of folks who think like we ourselves do.
But we DO.NOT. wish for others to judge us except only in the most positive, agreeable (to us) way.
So much for clean, pristine church… or any other form of group whether of Christ-focused or other spirituality or zero spiritual faith. Oh, and have you even considered when someone says “Don’t judge!” they are judging others to the extent they figure they ought to make that statement?!
From the Bible account-S Adam and Eve to Cain and Abel, to King Saul, to murderer/adulterer King David, to Judas, all the disciples who ran off at Jesus’ arrest, Ananias and Sapphira, Paul who had persecuted the church by his original name “Saul”, a list of named people in Paul’s letters to entire local churches right up to Peter’s second letter to the church, Jude’s warning of apostasy and laced throughout the Book of Revelation we see sin, lousy judgment, violent and conniving behaviors, warnings about THE JUDGE and judgment to come. We also read about the mercy seat (go study, it’s super important to get that one…). Sounds like the world outside the church to me except for future judgment before God’s throne.
I’m calling out hypocrisy to all of us who judge”the church” by what we ourselves decide is best for -us-. The very same judgment is made by all humans and in the end, if you wish to discard the people who regularly attend (in one form or another) a local fellowship of professing Christians, I’m saying “one more hypocrite is welcome”!
I’ve a lifetime of experience in more than surface communion with a wide, wide (did I say WIDE?) range of local churches. I find the same issues within them as without. People are people, you and I.
Now if we demand they change, the core issues are pretty much always moral, relational, a “preach the truth and PRACTICE IT and then maybe I’ll join you!” Whether or not you’re a follower of Jesus, you already have full share in the human condition which includes failure, baseness, self-interest above all others, and mistrust (often admittedly rational, sensible) of most everyone but yourself. Except you’ve not learned the final lesson of humility: you’re truly often as much a mess in your own life as “those church people are”.
I’ve been accepted, forgiven, cared for, educated, called out to repent and change, taught elements of balance, knowledge and wisdom, been rightly and needfully reminded of things I’d forgotten (or wanted to), encouraged to serve, been served by and truly raised and deeply BLESSED by that gathering of broken, flawed, sinful, hypocritical, messed-up, struggling and gracious people called “the church” for most of my lifetime.
OF COURSE this is my journey and experience and won’t fully, neatly nor completely be shared by my readers! But much of what I’ve said here fits all humans like a glove…
Sometimes we resist out of spite, anger, rage, malice, sometimes hurt, genuine pain experienced, expectations dashed by people we thought would help us, sometimes merely agree with our own judgment of people, events, personal desires we thought SHOULD be fulfilled.
Where ever you go, there you are.
I LOVE the church, all of her, with all her wrinkles, spots and blemishes (quoting scripture here) the Bride of Christ has often been called the adulteress by God Himself throughout the Bible… prophets continually call her out on this. No surprises, because the same goes for those outside.
When some stop walking, throw in the towel, wring their hands and call down curses on the church I remember Jesus’ words about the church. Never forget “church” is assembly of called-out ones, followers of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Such happens in and outside of all sorts of buildings, prisons, forests and wherever believers gather in faith toward Jesus.
Is repentance moving into genuine reformation regularly needed? YES!!! As it is in you and I dear reader!!!
I -LOVE- the church. Consider the long history of such and you begin to realize nothing can end what God has established in relation to Himself, those for whom Jesus came, was crucified for, raised up for on the third day. Alleluia!
As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn