I’ve been silent lately.
I haven’t attended church regularly in nearly four years.
I still have my faith, I’ve never lost it. It’s changed a bit, yes, but it’s still there.
Hypocrisy drove me away from church. People disguising their political opinions as God’s word slammed a door in my face. The unbiblical mish-mash of patriotism, nationalism, and select parts of the gospel told me I wasn’t welcome.
The demand of 100% adherence to what a select core of people felt was correct chased me away. I allowed individuals with a distorted view of scripture to extinguish my light and tarnish my lampstand.
I fell away into things that blemished my testimony and damaged my witness to the Christ who saved me. By His grace I was saved; by their temptations and trials I’ve allowed myself to wander in the desert.
I want to attend services. I want to pay my respects to the God who took on human form to suffer for my transgressions. I want to worship with others who, like myself, realize they live in a fallen, broken world, and who want to work together to make it a better place for everyone regardless of personal circumstance.
Matthew 18:20 tells us if two believers meet in Christ’s name, He is there with them. Also with those two people are three different opinions on any given topic. So many people, myself included, allow disagreements on those topics to shove Christ out of the meeting. All you have left is two people who each think they have the truth, when in reality neither do.
Why must we be so opinionated in worship? Yes, there are a plethora of verses about being yoked to non-believers and making sure that our bodies of worship are free of false teaching. However, many take this too far.
There are certain non-negotiable teachings we can be sure of and we need to keep these out of our dogma. Too many of us extend non-negotiables into the realm of personal opinion. Minor disagreements that, though they may grate upon us personally, really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Political views that we might think align with gospel, but do they really?
I’m not claiming by any stretch to be 100% innocent when it comes to being a disagreeable pew-squirmer. I still made an effort to be sociable and realize that not everything I believed in was shared by others. I kept quiet when I disagreed with someone, and all I asked in return was the same.
That didn’t happen though. Cries of “that politician is a socialist!” wafted through the Church halls. As if, one, that were anything close to true, and two, it would be such a bad thing if it were. Does the church really need to say these things?
I tired of teachings that were more politic than gospel. I tired of services that spent more time expounding on why others were wrong rather than why we were right. One should leave worship refreshed and ready to defend their faith; I left weary and ashamed of mine.
Romans 8:28 tells us that all things work together for good. Some people can only be reached through a strict, literal, perhaps erroneous interpretation of scripture. Some can only be reached through a liberal, loosely-interpreted, theologically dubious view of scripture. Some of us just want to hear a nice sermon on Sunday and not worry about why the two views are at odds and if one side or the other is condemned to an eternity in Hell.
Is it too much to ask that we leave our egos at home on Sunday? That we stop to think that not everyone is going to agree on everything? That we accept those who don’t share all the opinions we do? That we realize it’s a big world with a lot of viewpoints, and it’s pretty darn likely that ours is wrong in one way or another?
Christianity’s biggest enemy is not Islam. It’s not left-leaning political views. It isn’t unwed mothers, abortions, or homosexuals. It’s Christians and people who profess to be Christians. We are our own worst enemy.
A Muslim has never kept me from church, but a Christian has. A gay man has never convinced me to stay home from church, but a Pastor has. A socialist dictator has never made me avoid speaking about where I worship, but the congregation has.
Churches are shrinking. It isn’t the fault of secularism. It’s our own.