I regret that so many of us have misrepresented Christ to such a degree that so many of you want nothing to do with Him.
I’m sorry that you have seen, heard and felt hate from the church. I’m sorry that some churches are more concerned with gaining power rather than giving it away. I’m sorry that in the face of real hurt and pain, we have thrown out clichés and scripture that we aren’t bold enough to live up to. I’m sorry that as we drive to our church buildings on Sunday mornings we pass by broken and hurting people and never stop. I’m sorry to the homosexual who has been made to feel like they are less than human, to the poor who have been ignored, to the hurting who have been patronized.
I wish it was different, I want it to be different.
I don’t want someone shamed because of their choices. I don’t want you judged because of mistakes you’ve made. I don’t want the over 2,000 scriptures that discuss poverty to be pushed aside while a few scriptures about another subject are touted constantly. We have been wrong, I have been wrong. Years ago I went along with ideas and beliefs that I thought were part of what it meant to know Jesus. But, it didn’t take long for me to realize that while Jesus says do not judge, we judge. While Jesus says blessed are the peacemakers, we cause division. While Jesus says it’s difficult for a rich person to gain heaven, so many have reduced the Bible to a personal prosperity plan.
I’m sorry for the preacher yelling about nonsense on the radio from a church that the same family has controlled for years. I’m sorry for the television preachers who just want your money. I’m sorry for your local church that meets hundreds of times a year and never reaches out to make their community better. I’m sorry for the slick churches who take up an offering to “benefit the kingdom” while the money goes to state of the art technology for the building and the ministers. I’m sorry that in the past scripture has been twisted to support the crusades, slavery, racism and bigotry. I’m sorry that today scripture is used to attack and condemn. I’m sorry that you have maybe never experienced unconditional love.
I am not ashamed of the gospel, but I rarely see the gospel lived out. I am not ashamed of Jesus, but I seldom see Him in His followers. I am not ashamed of the church, but I am ashamed of its actions sometimes. I could list so many ways we have fallen short of the message of Jesus, and so can you.
I want to be part of the solution, I want to be true to the good news of Jesus. I don’t want the world to see a blurry picture of the real thing. I don’t know exactly how to do that. I think that’s the point. It starts with admitting we don’t know it all, its messy to live the message. We live, love, serve, give, act, speak, reach, teach, forgive and repeat. There is no perfect way to represent a perfect savior. There is hypocrisy in all of us, I feel it in me while I’m writing this. I’m just tired of pretending the church has it all right and the world has it all wrong. Yes the church has the truth, but it seems buried under a quest for control, for power.
There are some Christians out there who get it, some who realize its better to love than lecture. They want to share with you how their lives are different now. They want you to join them, not because you are so bad, but because you are so loved. They want to be a blessing not just be blessed. Church should be the one place everyone is accepted and loved. If God so love the world, then the world should be in the church, liberal and conservative, old and young, believer and skeptic, uneducated and professors, gay and straight, black and white. All of them experiencing the joy of life, the pain of life, and the uncertainty of life together. All of them growing and overcoming their own sin. Then and only then speaking about the sin of the world. The only type of person who should feel uncomfortable in a church is the one who thinks they are better than another. The church should never condone sin, ever, nor should it condemn a sinner, but offer compassion to everyone who it comes in contact with.
There is truth that sets us free and that truth no matter how hard it is for some to hear needs to be spoken in love. There is room for differences in a real church, for doubts, for struggles, for growth. But there is no more room for hypocrisy, condemnation and seclusion.
The bride of Christ has not been faithful to her groom. Yes as some say the church can’t be perfect but it has to be better than its been.
So, I’m sorry, we are sorry.
I am also begging you. Don’t throw it all out, don’t give up, don’t dismiss God because of some people or experiences.
Find a community of believers to be a part of, there are some great ones around.
Search for God, reach out for forgiveness, offer forgiveness and hold on to love.
Tom Wise © Finding Wonder 2013