Lately it has come to my attention that people are not attending church for various reasons. One in particular has been revealing itself to me more often as of late: I can’t go to church because the people are being too worldly, or are not being very Christian.
What does it mean to not be very Christian?
I believe society expects Christians to be sinless people, people that do not struggle with things like anger, judgment, insecurities, and many other issues that come naturally with being human. Society expects “Church goers” to all be Christian and under the umbrella of being “good” and struggle free. Ultimately, many Christians strive to fit under this umbrella; however, all people are not created equal and the flaws of humanity fly in the face of what society thinks “Christians and church goers” should be.
I have to admit that I am a very worldly person and I sin all the time. There are times where I am embarrassed by my actions/attitude. Even with the grace of Jesus I continue to sin and I do not live a very “Christian” lifestyle, at least the lifestyle society views as “Christian.”
In A.J. Swoboda’s recent book A Glorious Dark, the author suggests that God does something different from what society suggests God should do with us not-so-Christian Christians (and everyone else). A.J. notes Hosea and says, “God puts a ring on the whore. I too am that whore.” We are all that whore God is offering his engagement ring. Let me tell you a story:
One Sunday morning I woke up to screaming kids. My attitude was terrible and I stuffed it in. I fed my children breakfast and we hung out for a while. When I say we hung out I really mean them eating, screaming, pooping themselves, and spilling their milk while I raced to keep up with them. I was sweaty, tired, and my mind was blowing up from all of the screaming chaos that surrounded me. I love my children but my will to be patient with them was quickly fading. 9:30am rolled around and I was starving and with a throbbing headache my ambition to keep going was fading.
I woke my wife up around ten o’clock because she stayed up late doing laundry, dishes, and trying to keep up with the chaos that comes with being a parent. Then she had a bad attitude with me and I got upset, but I kept my mouth shut. We rushed together to get the kids ready for church, but I had a heavy heart as I changed the third poopy diaper. I thought for a second, “Who am I kidding? I have so many struggles, house is a mess, relationships are a mess, I’m probably raising my kids wrong, and I am probably a terrible husband. Why should I even think of going to church? I am not an example of what a ‘good Christian’ is or should be.”
Like a wave rushing in out of the ocean, I was reminded that we are going to church because we are so messed up. It is a privilege to be a part of a community that gathers weekly to celebrate the fact that we are broken, messed up, and most of all loved. We get to come together as a community of people that have experienced the power of Jesus Christ’s amazing grace. Even though we are not perfect or “good Christians” according to society’s standards, we are sinful, broken, and completely messed up people that have been made new by the power of Christ’s forgiveness. A “good Christian” according to the Bible is someone that has been saved even though he/she is a complete mess, accepts who he/she is, and moves forward in Christ with humility and love for both God and people.
So why go to church? We go to church because we get to proclaim the love and amazing Grace that is found in Jesus Christ together as a community of diverse, messed up, God and people loving sinners set free. We get to gather our families and move forward in victory, brokenness, and faith in Jesus who is King.