With great expectations also comes great disappointment.
I left the church once. I grew up in a church that was lively and spirited, but quite focused on looking like they all had it together. Me, being my messy self didn’t really fit that picture. Unfortunately I was judged, and judged harshly for decision I would make, or for the people I would invest in, and even more harshly for being a poor influence. Do I believe I deserved any of this criticism, no, nor do I believe that my decisions or the people I hung out with combined to display a poor influenced. But I do believe it was a messy example of what it is to struggle with life and Christianity, and it was definitely not polished. So I left. I said that I wanted a church that looked like Christ, and I decided that I didn’t like Christians. I even took the stance of saying that I was a Christ-Follower, but NOT a Christian.
I have since heard many similar stories of how people charge into the individual quest to follow Christ and leave church behind. And I felt vindicated, and justified in my own distaste and judgement of the Church and “so called” Christians. I really started to have a bad attitude about the whole religious thing.
To make a long story short-er, I found a place where I got along with a good majority of the people and they had good messages about following Christ and doing acts of service through the eyes of Christ toward your fellow humans. It’s a good comfortable place. It seems that the preacher was talking about the things that I was saying all along to myself out there in my rugged individual Christ-Follow-ship. BUT, it’s church. Therefore, I have been half-investing, and still trying to go it alone. Ironic how one of the biggest complaints about the church I left was that they wanted and expected me to show a put-together life, and now here in this new church I’m doing it myself regardless of the expectation to do so.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a church that didn’t judge me?”
Yes I would, but here’s the problem with expecting to find such a place, or even if that is the intention of the church, finding that everyone will all the time be non-judgmental:
WE ALL SIN AND FALL SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD!!!
Now I’m not sure if you have ever been to a school, but all the bad kids don’t become perfect angels in detention because they are gathered in the same place for the same goal. Prison is another not-magical place where criminals do not come together and behave like perfect law-abiding upstanding citizens because they are gathered together in a building for the sake of rehabilitation and becoming a little less messed up. Similarly, the church is also not some magical place where sinful messed up people come together and suddenly act exactly like Christ because they are gathered in the same place with the same goal of becoming a little less messed up and sinful and a little more like Christ.
I had to realize this when I started looking for a church again, and I think it’s tempered my angst toward churches and the people that go to church. After all, we all have opinions and sometimes we see others’ opinions as judgments, I know I’m guilty of being on both sides of that coin at times.