Growing up, I never remember a time that I didn't believe in Jesus. I remember going to church with my mom and dad. I remember throwing temper tantrums because they wouldn't take me to church with them. That is all before I turned 5. Later, I would go to church with my grandma. I loved going to church. I loved Jesus and believed in him and His sacrifice for me.
Then I grew up. I still loved Jesus. I still believed that He died to save me. I still believed that God was in control of my life and destiny but I stopped liking church. I stopped liking church because of the people I met that claimed to be Christians. I started to feel like they held these impossible standards to live up to all the while lying, cheating, stealing, or whatever. I started to feel like I didn't want any part of that group. I didn't want to be part of a group that made people feel so bad about themselves because they weren't "good" enough.
So I stopped going to church.
I didn't go to church for a long time. I felt that my relationship with God was between me and Him, not between me and a bunch of people that I thought were hypocrites. I was probably in my teens when I stopped going to church and didn't go back to church until I was in my twenties. I still prayed, I still believed, I still loved Him.
I didn't go back to church until a friend invited me to hers. I felt at home there. I didn't feel judged or like I wasn't good enough. They reminded us and showed us that we are all sinners, we all make bad choices, we all make mistakes, but there is hope for us. I finally felt like I had found a church where it was ok to not be perfect and if we said we were perfect, obviously it was a lie. I felt like the church reached out to everyone. It wasn't an exclusive group that you had to earn membership to. It restored my faith in the church and other Christians.
It was at that church that my faith grew and I really gave my life over to God. I learned that if we really loved God we had to love His people. I learned that God is love. Plain and simple. God is love. And in order to be living for Him, you have to love His people.
***Side note-I know this isn't easy. I still fail at it every day. But it is what He calls us to do.
Anyway, that isn't the point of this post.
My point is that I think Christianity is failing because of us that claim to be Christians. I think so many people are put off by the church because of those of us, myself included, that say we love Jesus and then treat people badly. Because we get on our high horses (a bit like I am doing now) and point out others' failures and faults, all the while not looking at our own. Please don't think I am excluding myself from this group, because I know I am part of the problem. But my point is we can do better. We should do better.
When people see me, the first thing I want them to see is Jesus. I want to be so in love with Him and His ways, that people don't see me, they see Him. Some days I think I am kind of successful, but some days I know I fail. And I need to do better.
Why am I saying all of this?
Because I am almost back to the point of my childhood where I have lost faith in the church and other people claiming to be Christians.
Now, thankfully I am older and wiser than me as a teenager. I know there are amazing people out there, living their lives for their Savior and giving it all for Him everyday. I know that we are all sinners and are only saved by grace. I know that I am the biggest sinner of all and need to look at my own eye first. I know God loves me the same as he loves the drug dealer, prostitute, murderer, thief, (continue to fill in the blank with whatever you want. It won't change.) I also know that part of loving God is having a community of believers to share life with(Hence, why church is important). Most importantly, I know not to give up so easily this time.
But what if I hadn't grown in my faith? What if I was new to the church? What if I wasn't sure if I believed in Jesus? Do you think I would stick around?
Remember that, next time you are being mean or spewing hate and especially using His name to do so.