I’ve never seen such evil as I’ve seen in the church. It’s a sad truth, but looking at my own experiences and the stories featured in the media, I’m amazed at just how much corruption, hatred, and arrogance people in the church put out.
No wonder we live in a society that believes God doesn’t exist while pointing fingers at the hypocrites who can be found in church buildings every Sunday morning. Who would choose to believe in a God whose followers say they love, but spew hate, and whose religious leaders are known more for their corruption and two-faced ways than most political leaders? When I talk to anyone about Jesus these days, I always hear this response: “I don’t need Jesus to be good. I know Christians who are far worse than I am.” And frankly, I see their point.
The church is supposed to be this tender, beautiful thing. Almost like a heaven on earth, where people could go to be accepted, loved, encouraged, and instructed on how to fulfill their ultimate purpose. Everyone in the group is supposed to help each other out. That’s how Jesus lived with his followers, and that’s what he’d dreamed the church to be. But honestly, when I think of those characteristics, I don’t think of the church. Or most Christians.
But there-in lies the beauty of Christ. He forgives us. He loves us despite us not being good. The church is ridiculously messed up, and we have to take responsibility for that. We have to own up to our issues (We’re arrogant! We think we know it all! Our leaders sometimes get big heads and do really horrible stuff! There I said it.) But the church groups that realize how disastrously ill-equipped to be good they are, those are the places where you can see God doing some really cool things.
The whole story of the Bible is love and redemption. It’s God loving some really screwed-up people… people who keep screwing up and apologizing and screwing up again. Jesus doesn’t teach us that we have to be good. Jesus came to show us how incredibly loved we were, despite how good we are, not because of it. And when the magnitude of that kind of love (most people haven’t experienced it in this world) seeps into my life, it helps soften my heart towards other people, making it easier to be good.
So on behalf of the church, I’m sorry. We’re pretty screwed up, I know. But there’s this pretty cool guy, Jesus, who got things right. Please don’t judge him based on the disaster that the church is. Judge him based on who HE is.