Lemme tell you about some church people. You guys, seriously: they are some of the most hyper-critical, selfish, greedy, gossipy gossipers that ever gossiped.
For real: Rude. Conceited. Prideful. Vengeful. Big-mouthed. Bossy. Immovable. Unbendable. Cold. Calloused. They are all about themselves. They are always angry over something. They are super-sensitive. I cannot even with church people most days.
They have their own culture and their own songs and their own language, dress codes, and secret signals. They say they are the hands and feet of Jesus–and that’d be believable, if Jesus was a backstabbing hypocritical gluttonous know-it-all who never helped anyone but himself.
They are jumpy and judgmental. They are grudge-holding and unforgiving.
And I? Am one of them.
The trouble with church people is that–wait for it–they’re people. People are so incredibly flawed and there is not one person–NOT EVEN ONE–who is even remotely righteous in his own power.
But church people, like non-church people, are trying.
We are trying.
Truth is, following Jesus is much, much harder in practice than it is in theory. We want to love and serve and give and be and do–and then, life. Anger. Confusion. Hurt. Sickness. Not every believer has the strength at every time.
We strive towards living out Jesus’s teachings, but we still seek validation and acceptance and approval out of our human nature. It’s a tough habit to break.
We worry. We know what the Bible says about it, but we still fight the very physical symptoms of anxiety and depression.
We criticize. We feel so unsure sometimes in our own knowledge of biblical concepts that we pick apart another believer’s words and actions–we hold each other to impossibly high standards. Deviations from script, or sometimes even questions in general, are intolerable.
But we are trying.
The early church loved Jesus. They devoted their entire lives–their families, careers, assets, everything–to serving Him and serving others in His name. Here’s a verse I have grown to love because it shows how Jesus works through the Church:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teachings and to fellowship, the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Everyday they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those that were being saved. Acts 2:42-47
It sounds like a bunch of hippy dippy brouhaha to the modern ear, but can you imagine how amazing it would’ve been to be a part of something so simple, but so powerful? All because the apostles whole-heartedly believed in and loved Jesus.
Worthy of notation: Jesus freakin’ LOVED the church. Loved. It. Died for it, actually. It was part of the deal from the get-go. Jesus planned to be with us as a church through the work of the Holy Spirit.
To hate church people is to hate the church, and to hate the church is to hate what Jesus died for.
So lemme tell you about some church people:
A few key mechanically-inclined members have kept me in a semi-safe, and running, vehicle over the course of the last seven years.
Three friends prayed me out of (or physically restrained me from) what would have been some nasty alcoholic relapses.
A group of no less than ten stone-coldest of believers loved me and my husband straight through the darkest, ugliest parts of our marriage.
Half our church is at least partially responsible for the thriving health of our currently-baking baby (and my husband’s sanity).
A small army of Godly men and women continue to disciple me through all my faults and mistakes with a genuine desire to simply heal my heart and help me grow closer to God.
These church people have welcomed me, loved me, fed me, clothed me, nursed me, educated me, forgiven me, cheered me, supported me, trained me, apologized for me, moved me, comforted me, and they did so faithfully and willingly.
I mess up–half the time I mess up accidentally on purpose. I second-guess myself constantly. I’m far from perfect and I assume this is how it’s gonna be til I die.
We don’t have all the answers, but our faith is strong because our God can move mountains. Our love is deep because we have experienced unconditional love. Our hope is high because our God keeps His promises.
And He promised to build His church with ordinary people, to do extraordinary things.