Over the past few weeks there have been numerous events happen that have caused my heart to be heavy. Last Sunday I heard a sermon about stepping out of our comfort zone and being the hands and feet of Jesus so that others would want to know Him. After talking to someone this week and extending an invitation for them to come to church sometime I was blown away by their response. It was in that moment I questioned if the church had failed in some ways to really represent the love that Jesus talks about, it was in that moment I had felt like a failure somehow. The response to my invitation that I got from this woman was that “people in the church are judgmental.” Wow that statement hit me like a ton of bricks and took my breath away for a moment.
The one place in this entire world you should feel loved and welcomed people are feeling judge and condemned. Somehow we need to change this way of thinking whether it be with our actions or the way we represent ourselves, our attitudes, our outreach I’m not sure. But I do know before I had a relationship with Jesus I too felt the same way and I have come to learn that there is this misconception that the people who go to church are perfect, have lives that are all together, never struggle with sin and are in a place that’s far beyond some peoples reach and never attainable for them and their mess. When someone invited me to church 10 years ago I thought to myself, “it’s not for me, my mess is way too big and those people don’t understand.”
I will get real here for a moment and say that as a Christian there are standards the Bible has for our lives that I follow to the best of my ability and because I have given my life to Him it’s my greatest effort to live a holy and cleansed life. The catch however is this, I didn’t wake up one day and magically turn into the person I am now. It took many years, prayers, tears, lessons, forgiveness, joys, and mess after mess in my humanness that I had created that had to be released and cleansed only by Jesus. As Christians or witnesses for Christ if people are missing the journey we have traveled and believe we are perfect and can do no wrong then as a church we have failed to show the broken, dirty, shattered pieces that have been laid at the feet of Jesus and transformed by His grace. Romans 3:23 “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard.” It doesn’t mean that now I never struggle or that I life this joyous and stress free life each day but it means that in my humanness when I need strength when I need someone to fight for me and lift me to my feet and love me spite my faults I have Jesus. We read in John 8 of a woman who committed adultery and a group of people who brought her to the middle of the town in front of everyone and called out her mess before them. Jesus was there teaching at the time and they wanted to show off her sin to Him. They pleaded that the woman be stoned for her transgressions and Jesus response could have been that but instead He answered boldly , “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” One by one the people began to turn and walk away until only Jesus and the woman were left. Jesus then responded by saying “not one person condemn you so neither shall I” and he told her to go and leave her life of sin. This story in the Bible is a huge lesson to others about how we all sin and fall short and that because of that, we do not have the right or privilege to judge or condemn another person.
It saddens me deeply to think that people fear stepping into church because of the people in it. To the people who aren’t in church today and feel like you have been judged by someone else I am sorry and if I have ever done this to another person I apologize right now and seek forgiveness because I to am a sinner only saved and transformed by God’s grace. I may look like I have it all together but I tell you what, I am a mess underneath. My life has come from deep sin, hurts, scars, brokenness and the list could go on and on and who am I to judge another person’s journey, and how dare another person especially in the church do the same!! I pray that as you consider a relationship with Jesus or the decision to give church a try please know that it’s not a room filled with perfect people and lives but instead filled with broken people that have allowed Jesus to remove the hurts in their lives and transform their story. With that being said there may be judgmental people, there may be people who struggle with addictions, there may be people who have deep debt, there may be people who gossip, there may be people who drink and although God has called us to live a life free from these things we all started somewhere and I hope you will also.
As you read this ask yourself first why you aren’t in church or what turns you off about church? If you are in the church can you think of a time where maybe you were judgmental to someone else and need to ask God for forgiveness for this moment? I pray as the Lord calls us to go into the world and show the love of Jesus that we would do it in a way that others would not look at us and see perfection but instead brokenness transformed by Jesus. I pray that God would give me the tenderness and compassion to meet others at their time of need and be reminded of the emotion and battle I faced in that moment one time also. We all have a story and a journey and its only through Jesus where we can be cleansed and transformed.