I’m not talking about any church in particular.
I’m talking about the Church. The body of believers. Christ’s bride.
Maybe it’s because I am open in sharing my own shortcomings, imperfections, and struggles with sin, or maybe people can sense the “therapist” in me, but for whatever reason, a lot of people confess their deepest, darkest sins to me. For some, it’s a secret they’ve kept for years, even decades.
When they do share with me, they can’t look me in the eye. Their eyes well up with tears. Their eyes look down with shame.
And almost every time, I am told, “You are the first person I’ve ever shared this with.”
I don’t blame them, though. It’s not safe to be vulnerable and transparent among the Church sometimes. Walking around everywhere are people who look like they have it all together, and the self-righteous looking down their pointy noses in judgment at those who don’t.
The message is clear: if you do not have your shit together, the Church is not for you. You do not belong.
So stay out.
Or worse, hide.
Brothers and sisters, can someone please tell me what the hell we are doing as the Church, as the body of believers, that week after week we can be among one another in “Christian fellowship,” and week after week perpetuate an environment where people are unable to come just as they are? Where sin is not tolerated? Where people remain in secret bondage to shame? What are we doing wrong that a young believer is unable to confess their sins and struggles in the very place where grace and mercy should prevail the most?
Since when did the throne room of grace, a place where sinners are welcomed just as they are, become perverted into a masquerade, where everyone is struggling, but no one is able to come before God or others without a mask of perfection on?
Have we forgotten that Jesus came to seek and save the lost? That He did not come for the self-righteous, but to become righteousness for the unrighteous?
Have we forgotten that we ourselves, all of us, are objects of wrath, and that God, in His miraculous and great mercy, saved us, even when we were still sinners and didn’t give a second thought to Him?
Have we forgotten the sins that we once struggled with, that we are so quick to judge others for, or worse, the sins that we are still struggling with, but we justify by saying, “Well, at least I’m not as bad as that guy”?
Have we forgotten that Jesus came to release the captives from darkness and into glorious light??
Have we become, *gulp* Pharisaical???
Seriously. This is a BIG. DEAL.
I’m not the only one who says so. Jesus says so.
Jesus says in Matthew 18:6:
“If anyone causes one of these little ones – those who believe in me – to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
When we as the body of Christ, as the Church, communicate to younger believers, “You need to have it all together before you can be acceptable to this community and acceptable before God,” we are essentially saying, “Until then, stay out.”
So we kick them out of the throne room of grace, or only let them in if they can act the part, but live in secret captivity to their sin and struggle for years to come.
Away from true nakedness before God, covered in fig leaves. Away from grace.
Away from the very place that Jesus Himself died and rose again for, despite our deepest shame and our darkest sin.
THAT is a travesty. And THAT makes my blood boil FAR MORE than when men mistreat women.
Jesus said it. “It would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
For as long as I’ve been with Navigators, as both a student and staff, it’s never been a “pretty” group, where everyone dresses in the same NOTW shirts and acts the same, and parrots the same sexy theologians, and says the same cliched Christian catch-phrase of the week and listens only to Christian music and no one swears and everyone has everything together all perfectly wrapped up in a bow to present to Jesus as good to go, no additional saving needed.
It’s always been messy. A rag-tag group of rough-around-the-edges individuals. Sinners. People who struggle in their walks with God. People who don’t have it all together. People who are known, loved, and fully accepted, despite all the depths of their sin. People who love God and love others much because they have been forgiven much. People who long-suffer with one another. People who are real.
Hands down any day, I’d far rather be part of the messy Church than the pretty one.
The Church shouldn’t be comprised of the perfect. It should be made of the sinful, the real, and the forgiven.
So let’s stop sucking as the Church and start being real.
Have you ever thought that the Church kinda sucked? If so, what do you think we can do as the Church to not suck so much?