Saturday, October 4, 2008

come as you are

So my husband and i were talking about being a christian earlier this week and we were thinking about some of the reasons why we are currently choosing not to go to church.
I think mainly the reason is at the churches we have been to, many people there are hypocrites.
I am sure there are hypocrites where ever you go, but it seems that maybe there should be a few less at church. We have been to many churches over the years and the experience has been more or less the same.

Jesus says to us to come as we are, or does He?

Well, technically no. He tells us to come as sinners to find the truth. There is no phrase in the Bible that says come as we are. It doesn't mean we need to change ourselves and be free of sin when we come, (how could we do that on our own?) it means come how you are with a heart willing to change for the Lord.

1 Timothy 2:3-5
.......God our Savior who wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ.

He wants ALL of us to be saved. Not just rich people, not just those who go to church every Sunday, not just those who pray before dinner, he wants EVERYONE. He wants us to come to Him on our own willingly. He wants us to come if we smoke, He wants us to come if we drink, he wants us to come if we have holes in our clothes, he wants us to come if we sleep under a newspaper every night.

And yet at our very own establishments, this does not happen. Oh sure we have our "ministries to the poor people". We go to their homes, their schools, we keep them there (our brand new pews would get dirty?) and we tell them what they should be doing, and we give them food. And we leave and come home and talk about what a good thing we did. And i am sure there are some who did it with a pure heart. and some who did it to spend time with their friends, and some who were forced by their parents or their spouse.

When we get together on Sunday mornings, we sing and pray and have communion and messages, all in the same order, stand up, sit down, sing, pray, standup and sing, sit down and listen. All in the same order, over and over again.

We look around at that person whispering, that person passing a note, or that woman whose husband didn't come again, or that teen wearing too much makeup or whoever wearing the same clothes from last week. The moms who take hours getting themselves and their daughters hair curled and dresses fluffed just so. And we think " oh how much more righteous am i? i sit still and listen, i stand and sit, sit and stand. I wear a new dress each week, and i give money every week".

Quite frankly, it makes me sick. I am not trying to judge, or put all people into a stereotyped group, just making observations.

Mark 4:18-20
Still others like seed sown against thorns, hear the word, but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop-thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.

If you are so busy worrying about what everyone else is doing wrong, how can you be listening?

If you sit in judgement of the sins of everyone else, how can you be watching yourself?

No one is with out sin. We wouldn't need Jesus if we were.

Many sins are not obvious, and many are. Just because you can see one sin doesn't mean you don't have your own.

My husband and I feel we should be able to come and worship as we are. we should be able to focus on our hearts and our relationship with God, not what every one else is thinking.

Let me give you an example.

My husband has a mohawk, and stretched out earring holes. I have my nose pierced and a tattoo on the back of my neck. We went to my mother in laws church service maybe 2 years ago. They called them selves contemporary. They were reaching out to the "young people". The moment my husband left the gathering group in the gym (to go the bathroom) he was followed by an older woman who apparently had some standing, and when he stopped to say something to the person working the electronic part of the service, my husband was immediately told by this woman he was out of line and to get back to the group. He was 24 years old!

She judged him. She thought she knew his heart by what he looked like on the outside. She thought his sins must be worse than her own.

My friend (this story happened over 8 years ago) became pregnant out of wedlock. She would not name the father. She hid the pregnancy for as long as she could. When it finally became quite clear, her church gave her an ultimatum. Stand up in front of the church, admit what you've done, name the father, and ask forgiveness, or leave forever.

She left.

Her sin was obvious. But when it comes to sins, there is no rank. It is sin. It is separation from God.

There is only one way to bridge that gap. Not your pastor, not your sunday school teacher, not your good deeds for the poor and needy.

Jesus Christ. He goes before us to God. He wipes our sins clean so God can see us perfect.

He does this for us everytime, we ask. Isn't that amazing?

My point of this is not to ask for invitations to church. I have had many over the years assure me their church isn't like that, i have yet to find it true.

My point is to say next time you find yourself in church looking around at someone who doesn't seem as good as you, or dressed as well, or as holy, stop. Think to your self "now is the time to worship" and redirect your thoughts to the Lord. You never know who might be looking around thinking those things about you.

Next time you see someone in church who doesn't quite fit to the image, don't rush up and try to save them. You can't. Only Jesus can. And since you don't know their heart, maybe they don't need as much saving as you think.

My whole point is, church seems to have become a place to show off how much of a Christian you are. Don't be a part of that. Come as you are, and let others do the same.