As some may know my relationship with the Church has been a love/hate relationship for some time now. I know there are parts of the Church that I love, like worship and community. However, there are parts of the Church that just drive me up the wall, like prejudice, exclusion and hypocrisy.
Often times, when hearing others talk about the Church, I hear quotes like this one from someone who themselves would not claim to be a Christian, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians, your Christians are so unlike your Christ,” -Gandhi. Or even from those like Luther who have been major players in the Church reformation movements in the past, “the church is a whore, but she is my mother all the same.”
Both professing Christians and Non-Christians alike have their qualms with the way Christians act towards believers and non-believers, and it is because of this I feel like we are in need of further reform, a revolution of sorts in which Christians begin to take the words spoken by Christ a little more seriously and a little more to heart.
I know there are many directions in which I could take this blog, however for length sake I will choose just one. In this blog I want to focus on the Church’s view of sin, and more specifically the Church’s response to sin. I am sure you have all heard the old adage, “love the sinner, hate the sin,” but are we as the church even doing this?
I have been attending this Friday night get together called Man Group recently. It is a time for Men who live locally in Chiang Mai to get together once a week and do life together, talk about current issues, the Bible, or even our own struggles. We usually meet at this bar/restaurant down by the river and hang out for a couple of hours chatting and encouraging each other to be better men.
This past week we ended up meeting at one of the guy’s houses to hang out instead. The topic of the night was homosexuality and the Church’s response. We talked about the prejudice and how homosexuality in the church is seen as a taboo and how many Christians don’t feel like they should be a part of their Church. We don’t always have this heavy of a topic, however it stemmed from a topic discussed previously when I could not attend. The discussion quickly evolved into talking about all sin being taboo in the church and how in the Western Church we have set up this false premise that we all need to clean ourselves up before we can come to the Church, or if I am in the Church I have to keep my sin private so as not to be judged by others. Even more so, if I am in Church Leadership, I definitely need to keep my sin under wraps because if people see who I really am they would never let me lead, and never trust me with anything. We forget that they are still people and they still sin and often times fall to greater temptations because of their station of leadership.
Now, this blog is not about the morality of homosexuality or how we should treat people from the homosexual community, but it is about the morality of people and how we should treat people. The Church has forgotten how to love people where they are at, they have started ignoring what is really going on in peoples lives so that they can “love” them without the mess. Because, people don’t want mess, they want simple relationships that at the end of the day they can put back into their box and put on their shelves for the next time, instead of getting down in the trenches and digging through the blood and guts of each others lives to spur each other on so that we can all become more Christ-like and less prejudice, judgmental, and afraid.
By the end of our discussion we all came to the conclusion that it would not be an easy task; that changing the mindset of an entire culture would not be easy. However, we felt that it just needed to start and that we could start making the change and that through us others may be inspired and that a chain reaction would take place that would shatter the mold, as we know it. If we start to love one another, if we stop judging and discriminating maybe others would see and they would fall in line. If we stop talking about ways we could live like Jesus and actually did some of those things what could happen to this world? Would it change anything at all? I don’t know, but I can try.
So, I am calling the Church to action, lets get real with each other, lets get dirty and messy, so that we can become better followers of Christ and better lights to the world, and lets kill the judgment that leads to hypocrisy. I feel that if we can get real with each other, and we can learn to love each other in spite of their sin and in spite of their failures, and love each other enough to not leave each other where they are at, but walk together through the hard things in life, that is when we will start seeing change, and that is when we will start seeing the quotes change. The Church will no longer be a Whore that we are forced to love because she is our Mother and people on the outside will learn to like us as well, because together we have become a little more like Christ, and “love the sinner, hate the sin” will no longer exist because we will just love, and love people unconditionally.