Four years ago if you were to ask me how I felt about the church I would’ve probably told you that I hate it. I am a pastor’s kid. Growing up, I felt like there were always about a zillion people in my house. There were constantly people who wanted my parents’ attention. I literally had to wait in line to talk to my dad after he preached on Sundays.
My dad could never go to my dance competitions on Sundays. My mom was everyone’s counselor.
I felt like I had to be at every church function, and people had really unrealistic expectations of me.
Honestly, I felt like the church took my parents away from me and, even worse, I felt like the church didn’t even appreciate them or their time. I saw the good the bad and the ugly. And for a long time I felt like it was mostly the latter two. I didn’t like the church, and I definitely didn’t trust it/them.
Let me stop and say I have the best parents in the entire universe. My dad is a fantastic pastor and an even better dad, so much so that it is hard for me to understand how my heavenly Father can love me more than my earthly parents do. That kind of love hurts my head to even think about. My mom is the most supportive, beautiful, and down-to-earth human I know. I pray that I can be half the mom she is one day.
Eventually I realized that the problem wasn’t my parents or even the church. The problem was me. I was so quick to jump on the “everyone in the church is a hypocrite” bandwagon that I didn’t understand that broken and messed up people were the only reason the church exists.
So let me just give a big “duh” to people who feel like the church is full of people that show up to church on Sundays and yet their lives are a wreck. I fully understand that the church also has people that are totally fake and act like they have it all together but, believe it or not, Christ died for them too.
We all NEED Christ.
In Mark 2:17 Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
If I could speak to my younger self, I would tell her something like this:
“Wake up. Of course the people in the church are messed up, it is full of humans, and every one of us needs Christ, whether you like it or not. The church was designed for the broken. YOU ARE JUST AS BROKEN. You need Christ just as much as everyone else. Start to look at these broken people as a blessing, listen to them when they try to help you not make the same mistakes. Stop getting mad when these people come into your house. Shut up and listen.
“YOUR PARENTS AREN’T IDIOTS. They are some of the most Christ-like humans you will ever meet. They have dedicated their lives to acknowledging that they are broken and taking what God has taught them in their brokenness to teach other people. The church was never supposed to be perfect, love them anyway and allow others to love you.
“The only thing you have in common with most of these people is Christ, and that is enough when you are finding your identity in Him. People in the church are going to hurt you and your family, get used to it. Learn to forgive as Christ forgave (and stop wearing so much eyeliner, you look ridiculous).”
Recently, God has been teaching me a lesson in loving the church. When I got to Nashville, I was not in a hurry to get involved in a church anywhere. But over the past few months I have been overwhelmed by all that God is teaching me about how much He loves the church–and how important it is that I realize who the church is for and, more importantly, who it is made up of. I’m relearning what loving the church means.
If you have church-trust issues like me, I want to encourage you to pray through what the Bible says about the purpose of the church. Please do not let stereotypical church problems keep you from what God might be trying to teach you through a body of other broken people trying to figure this thing out with you. Sooner or later the body of Christ has to start getting honest with each other and learn how to love the broken together.
Gene’ Hughes, guest blogger. I’m just a rebellious pastor’s kid with a heart for the nations who is obsessed with Jesus Christ. I write because I know God uses ordinary misfits like me to accomplish His extraordinary plan. I’m stoked about going to The Ends of the Earth with this Gospel and my blog is an open invitation for you guys to join me on this incredible journey. Beautiful Feet.