One reason why people don’t come to church willingly is because they don’t want to be judged. They usually already know what is not right in their lives. The last thing they want to do is to befriend and open up to people whose lives seem so ‘spiritual’ and perfect. They don’t want spiritual policemen in their lives!
And it’s not just people outside the church. We all open up to other people who are real about their struggles and can identify with us. And when we fail to find such people, we continue with our spiritual facade, looking great on the outside but a mess on the inside. A lonely existence that is true for many in the church today!
What will help people most in their quest for the truth about God and life purpose is for those who have experienced God’s forgiveness to refrain from being quick to judge and slow to offer quick advice. When we look down on others, they feel judged, condemned and unaccepted. And when we offer ready-made answers we fail to empathize with how complex their problems really are.
What we instead need to do is to offer grace and acceptance while living out the truth. People don’t care how much we know if they don’t know how much we care!
Is it possible that church could become a hospital for sinners, and not a hotel for ‘saints’? Is it possible that church could be the place where I can be loved and accepted when I’m going through a difficult stage of my life? Is it possible that church can be the place where sinners won’t feel like worms and losers won’t feel like second class citizens? Is it possible that people can open up about their addiction to alcohol, sex, or drugs or their experiences of abuse or struggles with mental health or HIV? And still be accepted, loved and helped?
Is it possible that church can become the place where people visiting are so struck by the love and joy and by relationships that cut across the barriers of age, race, tribe and social class that they inevitable conclude, ‘surely, there must be a God!’?
I believe it is. Let’s strip away the need to look perfect and be the church to each other. Let’s be each other’s mighty warriors. Remember, true courage never walks alone!