I was recently interviewed on a radio show where I was asked: “Why do more and more people say they love Jesus, but not the church?” That is one of those questions I would’ve loved to get ahead of time. It takes some thought. But, since I didn’t, I think I initially said they are looking for authenticity. Which is maybe kind of true, but not really at the heart of it. After giving it more thought, I believe it is because people think Jesus and the church are separate. Put in terms of family, He is the “nice or cool parent” and church is the “not as nice judgmental parent.” So when there’s a nice cool parent, why need the other? But, really what they are missing, is that both “parents” are working together. The problem is one parent (Jesus) is perfect and one parent can be flawed. But, both parents love each other (the church is “the bride of Christ” Ephesians 5:25) so we have to understand that one parent (the church) might make mistakes, but it is only human. I don’t know if this is a perfect analogy, but I think too many people evaluate churches and feel if they don’t live up to the perfection of Jesus, they reject it.
In our culture, there also seems to be a trend for Christians to put down other Christians they deem not as “loving” as them. But, the bible says: “Let us do good to everyone and especially to those who are of the household of faith” Galatians 6:10. Instead of criticizing Christians first (while overlooking every flaw of non-Christians,) let’s extend grace and love to each other.
Another reason people stay away (and I believe one of the greatest stumbling blocks Christians and non-Christians make) is to equate people with Jesus. We are told in the bible that “none is righteous, no not one” Romans 3:10 and that “the fear of man is a trap, but whoever trusts in the Lord is protected” Proverbs 29:25. So, why do people do it then? Because we don’t have faith that Jesus truly is who He says He is. That He does have the power to make changes in our lives, open doors, protect our reputation, save loved ones, keep us from harm. In Christ we can trust that He has our ultimate good in His hands. And a part of that relationship is attending His house of worship where we can come together and worship Him, learn (the whole gospel not just parts itchy ears want to hear,) be reminded of His love and sacrifice and encourage each other in fellowship. (God, who always wants the best for us, says in scripture to: “not neglect the assembling of ourselves together.” Hebrews 10:25.)
I have had times in my life where I have wanted to avoid church. And looking back on those times it has all been because of fear of man. Please don’t fear man. Don’t think they are better than you. They are not. We are all sinners working out our salvation in Christ. Don’t think you will stay “safe” and away from the “hypocrites.” If you go to church you will only grow closer to Jesus and then you can be a light to those who maybe truly are hypocritical. Take the power that is yours. The power of Jesus Christ in you. Pray and ask Jesus to give you vision for your own ministry and your own way to minister to others. We are not victims in church. We have the power of the Living God in us. Use that wherever you go. But, please don’t shun the church. The church needs ALL of us sinners.