I know the title of this article may surprise and shock many friends and relatives. But the truth is, I haven’t gone to church in a very long time.
I believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus is my savior and I know that someday when I die, I will go to heaven and live with him forever. I’m a Christian.
As a child, I was born into the church, baptized, attended Sunday school and vacation bible school, was in youth group, and sang in the choir.
As an adult, I was active in the church, taught Sunday school, vacation bible school, and children’s church, directed the choir, and led praise and worship.
Hubby and I wanted this for our family, too. So we raised our children in the church where they were baptized, attended Sunday school and vacation bible school, were in the youth group, and attended church camp.
If the church doors were open, we were there.
So what happened? Why don’t we go to church?
We got burned out. Sorry if this sounds lame to some that have never experienced it, but pretty much plain and simple, we got burned out.
If it were only from not being able to say, “No”, we would have gotten over it a long time ago. And believe me, we have tried to go back to church from time to time over the years.
We got burned out on people, especially those in leadership, who said they were Christians but treated others judgmentally and even harshly…in the name of Jesus. People who preached love, but their actions were anything but loving. I realize no one is perfect and I don’t expect perfection. But love and acceptance isn’t that hard of a concept.
So, what brings all this to mind today? What is fueling the anger and hurt so much that I just have to write about it?
I have been wanting to try going to church again and have made plans to visit one in the very near future. This morning I thought, “Let’s watch a local church service (a different church than where we’re going to visit) that is on TV and see what God has for us today.” I chose one that I’ve watched before and thought was good.
The sermon was interesting, but then the preacher got to the closing prayer. It has always irritated me when preachers offer up a prayer that is really another little sermon. A little sermon prayer that contains verbiage they wouldn’t say to the people directly, but somehow think it’s OK to put it in a prayer. Well, in this sermon prayer this preacher was praying for our country (that’s OK) and then…he started praying against the “evils of Islam.” The what? He called Isalm the anti-christ because they don’t accept Jesus as anything more than a teacher.
I’m sorry (not sorry) but that is wrong. It came out of ignorance and was meant to incite fear and prejudice, all framed in the guise of a prayer.
Loving others means accepting those with whom you disagree and it means praying for them. Many (or most) so-called Christian preachers and other church leaders just don’t get it.
Here’s what Jesus had to say about it from Matthew 5:43-44: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor. (Leviticus 19:18) Hate your enemy.’ But here is what I tell you. Love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you.”
Referring back to the sermon prayer I heard this morning, if the preacher had prayed for terrorism to come to an end and/or for protection from terrorism; even if he had mentioned Islamic extremists by name…I wouldn’t have been so upset. To vilify an entire peaceful religion because of an extremist sect is wrong. It’s like saying all of Christianity is evil because of Westboro Baptist Church and others like them.
This morning’s preacher could use a review of Matthew 5:44. I also realize that Jesus’ words here are for all of us, including me, so I’m going to pray for him to gain a deeper understanding of love, Jesus style.
Will I visit another church? Yes, I will.
Will I be disappointed in so-called Christians who use their religion to hurt others? Yes, I will. My faith is in God, not people.
Pray for others. Love them…all of them.
Remember that home is where the heart is, and there’s no place like home!