Dear Christian: Stop Badmouthing the Church (Yes, Even if You’ve Been Hurt By People In It!)
God is in Mega Churches (If I read Acts right, the first Sunday Service turned in to a Mega Church). God is in House Churches (Paul talks of the church that meets in Chloe’s House, Aquila and Pricilla’s house, and more). God is in church buildings (Jesus went to Synagogue every Sabbath, as was His habit, the Apostles went to Synagogue on Sabbath, and worshipped on the Lord’s Day, and the first church met in the courtyards of the Temple, and at Synagogues until they were kicked out, and, it is believed, the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus was in ruins 100 years after Paul preached there, but the largest building was the public house where the church would gather). God is found in the rural preaching in open places (how many places did the church or followers of Jesus gather that were in open places?), and in the private study of an individual believer. And in examining all of this, one thing is clear: the scriptures tell us that we should be gathering together.
We live in a time when it is popular to watch from home. People are afraid of getting sick, so they stay to themselves. But what is even more prominent is people mocking, loudly decrying, and even shouting at the church for being full of hypocrites. The sad part is, most of these people are, themselves, hypocrites. I know that sounds harsh, but if we’re truly honest with ourselves, we all are. People let their hurt, their unrealized expectations, their disappointments, and whatever else they came to church looking for and didn’t find define church for them, and, thus, they continue to mock church and the people who go. What they were looking for wasn’t Jesus, if this is how they are. I’m not diminishing anyone’s pain, by any means, but I am accountable to Jesus, and thus the truth, and I must call it as I see it. How do I know? I used to be one of those people.
What is our solution, then? It is several-fold. First, stop looking for anything but Jesus in the Church. People will disappoint you; they’re on the same journey you are, and they are bound to make mistakes (I will and have, for sure). Look for Jesus, and you’ll find Him there. Second, Stop making fun of how large or how small a gathering is. Jesus changed the world with 11 guys, and then 120 in an upper room, then in one day they went from 120 to over 3,000. It’s not the size of the Gathering, it’s the unity of believers, their devotion to the Apostles Teaching, Breaking of Bread, Fellowship and of the Prayers (Acts 2:42). Third, stop decrying other Christians for how they DON’T follow Jesus, and follow Jesus the way Scripture calls YOU to. Change from within, be an example, or find a body of believers that is as close as they can be to what the Bible says they should be. And, lastly, stop complaining. Scripture tells us to do all without grumbling and complaining. If your local church is not following scripture, seek to correct biblically, and if you can’t, find a body that is. At the very least, find a group of seekers who desire to find Christ, and get in to the word with them. Just stop complaining. Hebrews 10:25-39 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For,
“Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.