What is it about Church that seems to be so bitter in the mouths of believers nowadays? What is it that turns people off from wanting to gather together as a body of Christ to worship our heavenly Father? Many have an answer for that. The most popular one would be “the followers”. Those that claim Christianity or follower of Christ as their title. Those “followers” – the ones who are supposedly called to lead others to Christ and help encourage one another – are the ones pushing away other followers. According to most people who have turned away from the church, anyway.
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. -Hebrews 10: 24-25
My focus here isn’t blaming the followers that “push people away”, nor is it really blaming anyone at all. Because, everyone has different situations that go on. There are many different reason as to why one would feel like they were pushed out of the church. One reason that I won’t so much talk about because it’s not what I want to get into right now, is the church people deliberately judging and causing issues for people that make them leave. Unfortunately, there are some churches with those high and mighty people that will judge you in the most cruel way. But let’s look on the other hand as to why people leave the church, and maybe even leave God.
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. – James 5:16
I’ve heard many times that people can not stand the negativity, preachiness, and judgement in churches. Some have said the reason they are judged is because they don’t live up to the standards and interpretations of certain church goers. Which leads to the question of who is to determine what constitutes as a “true follower”? Sure, we all have our own thoughts on how life should be lived as a christian. But what it boils down to is what the Bible says a True Follower is. I could easily tell you out of my own knowledge that a True Follower is someone who Loves the Lord with all of their heart, soul and mind. Who strives to “be like Jesus”. Who practices all the fruits of the spirit. But, I also know that some take those to extreme and sometimes out of context. We are human. We fail at love, we fail at gentleness, we fail at understanding and compassion. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t growing and learning through our stumbles.
14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty….27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. – 1 Corinthians 12: 14-27
The other thing that I think a lot of people skim over too often is the difference between judgement and calling out someone about something they need to work on in a biblical way. There is a difference between, “you shouldn’t wear low-cut shirts to church! You’re sinful and should be ashamed!” verses kindly explaining modesty to someone, but also understand that that may be the only thing they own! Grace, kindness, understanding, and gentleness. But, what about those who take things way too personally and overly dramatizes a simple gentle act of guidance? As Followers of Christ, it is biblical to tell someone, “Hey, you’re straying away a bit there, you might want to readjust your sails”. Though, many times people get way too defensive and feel as though they are being prosecuted for being themselves. Hm, let’s look at that a little bit. Being yourself and being a growing and learning follower of Christ are two different things. Being yourself in the sense that you are who you are and you ain’t gonna change isn’t quite where God wants you to be. He wants us to be open and humbled.
2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. – Ephesians 4:2
We are constantly being judged by others. Any church you go to there will be judgement. And honestly, any other place you go to there will be judgement. What we need to look at though, is how we handle OURSELVES rather than how we handle other peoples issues. Rather than taking judgement personally and allowing it to fester negativity and bitterness, look on those people with love and kindness and allow them grace. We do not go to church because we are perfect and know everything there is to know about following God. We go to church because we are NOT perfect, we are broken, we are sinners, and we have issues. We gather together as a church to unite the body of believers in total worship to our Father in Heaven. We don’t go to church to please or impress others, or to manipulate them into their “own interpretations”. We go there to encourage and support each other. I mean that for those who feel victimized in churches. I’m not pointing the finger, I’m simply saying that we can’t expect others to show us true fellowship if we are too busy putting up walls and getting defensive about someone’s struggles. Do onto others. Regardless. Love thy neighbor, regardless. Love in the way that shows grace and kindness. Not a simple “I love you but I don’t have to like you or deal with you” sort of way.
Regardless of whatever situation you’re in with a church, we must remember that Christ is our common denominator. As a body of Christ, we exercise our spiritual gifts to serve and minister to each other. How can we help one another if we are constantly defensive and victimize ourselves to the issues of others?
What are your thoughts? Have you felt judged in a church which made you leave? Have you stopped going to church because you constantly feel that way? Have you reflected on that and opened yourself up to a change of heart or allowed yourself to be humble and acknowledge where you may need to change?