PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• I recently talked to someone who told me they are mad at the church. I honestly don’t know the whys or reasons this person is mad. At the time of the comment, it wasn’t the time to get into a deeper understanding or discussion about it. But their anger is keeping them from going to church.
I’ve also had conversations with other friends who have told me about circumstances in their churches that are nothing short of toxic. My friends continue to go, but they are extremely discouraged. Without getting into details, it seems these churches have cliques and popularity issues that are disrupting true Christian fellowship.
All three of these situations are sad and I’ve been in all of them. My former anger at the church wasn’t something I would have defined that way at the time. But hindsight being 20/20, I understand that I held imperfect people to a standard only God can meet. And as far as church-cliques go… well, once again, people aren’t perfect.
As I think of these situations and others like them, it all comes back to this: we cannot blame God for our human failures. All the characteristics we expect to find in the church are God’s characteristics. While we want to reflect those, sometimes we will do it poorly and we will never do it perfectly.
It is discouraging because, on paper, it’s easy. Love one another. That’s what Jesus told us to do in John 13:34 and “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8 ESV).
Let’s go to Romans 15:5-7 ESV. It says, “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
If you have issues with the church—anger, cliques, other issues—please look at this passage. “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another…” It doesn’t tell us to rely on ourselves but to rely on the God of endurance… the God of encouragement… and may He grant YOU… it doesn’t say He will make other people nice, it says He will grant YOU the ability to live in harmony with others. If you have issues with the church, let the changes that need to happen start with you through His endurance and encouragement.
If there are people who have hurt your feelings or let you down, respond with love and grace. Don’t make it about you, but turn it around to show the love of Christ. We cannot have successful churches if it’s all about us! We are one—the body of Christ.
This is a topic that is way too big for a single day. But I’ve been on the full spectrum of church participation. I went from being there every time the doors were open to not going at all… I’ve been a sporadic church goer… and I’ve been a warm body in a pew… and now, I’m an active member in a church that I truly love. I know how amazing church is and yet, how hard it can be.
It’s well-documented and reported that church attendance is on the decline. My pastor just talked about it on Sunday and churches are rightly concerned about this. I could easily go down another rabbit hole on this, but I will leave it alone.
Churches are made of people and people will always make mistakes. But when we go to church, it’s not about us. It’s about Him. And His patient endurance and encouragement are what strengthens us when we find ourselves in imperfect situations.
Today, as you pray, thank God for His endurance and encouragement. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you be a church member who shows the love of Jesus to everyone. Ask Him to help you show love, kindness, grace, and a servant’s heart so that it’s not about you, but always, always, always about Him.