There are thousands of horror stories about “church people” and I have heard ’em all. Visitors being asked to move from a member’s seat? Heard it. Deacon sleeping with the pastor’s wife? Heard it. Drug boys flipping money from the offering plate? Heard it. Abusing innocent children? Pastor high on crack in the pulpit? Tithes used to take island vacations? Heard it. Heard it. Heard it.
I’ve met droves of church dropouts who explain to me why they no longer “do church.” I get it. Church is a messy place full of hypocrites, hustlers, and heart broken people who can be mean as snakes and flighty as doves. But here’s the thing:
Church is a messy place full of hypocrites, hustlers, and heart broken people who can be mean as snakes and flighty as doves.
Okay, listen. I’ve been there…and back. You’re not wrong about the church being a headache and filled with people who couldn’t spell Christian if you gave them “Christ.” Yes, I meant to do that.
I know what you’re thinking. Why don’t we just kick those terrible people out of the church so they’ll stop chasing away all the kind, loving, unselfish, non-judgmental, no gossiping, God-fearing saints like you? Hmmmmm. That could work but we have to be careful. Remember the parable of the wheat and the weeds in Matthew 13? Some versions call it the wheat and the tares — which is basically just weeds.
Jesus tells the parable in verse 24 and then explains it a little further in verse 36. He said the wheat represents the good people of the kingdom. The weeds represent the people who were planted by the evil one. In agriculture, tare and wheat look very similar — almost identical when they are first growing. You can’t really tell them apart until harvest time. In the parable, the farmer tells the workers not to pull up the weeds because the wheat and weeds look so similar that you may accidentally destroy the wheat.
Here’s the deal…you’re wheat. I get it. You love God. You’re not perfect but, in your mind, you’re a good Christian. However, there are people in church who are still growing and trying to mature. They make mistakes. When you look at these people you see weeds, but in time, you may find that they are actually wheat, just like you. It takes time and that time is not determined by how long you sit on the front pew. It may be 40 years or 4 services before a person grows into the fullness of their faith. As an Honors, AP, Summa Cum Laude Christian, you’ll just need to exercise some patience – see Galatians 5:22 on spiritual fruit.
We have to start thinking of church the way we do all the other aspects of life. We don’t quit our jobs when people offend us. You can’t stop being family with your crazy sister or mean-spirited cousin. They are apart of the family, no matter what they do. Your church family is really jacked up. Some people are hustlers trying to get something, other than Jesus, from the church. Some folks are hypocrites who do as they do and say what they say. But in reality, many church people are just heart-broken, significance-seeking, emotionally wounded individuals hoping to make sense of this thing called life. The last thing they need is for someone as well-versed on kindness, good behavior, and godliness like you, to leave them all alone in a church full of hustlers and hypocrites.