To go or not to go to church ... that question has been a hard one for me for 10-plus years now. I grew up a preacher's kid, and I had been involved in church all of my life. As I grew older and, in my mind, wiser, I started to see behind the curtain a bit. And what I saw, I didn't like.
I didn't like the hypocrisy of seeing people say one thing, yet do another. I didn't like the legalism or judgmental attitude of others. Over time, I settled into a mindset that I could have a great walk with God and a relationship with Jesus as long as I kept both my quiet time and my prayer life alive ... as long as I did it my way.
Do you feel like that? Are you currently in this mindset?
Occasionally, I would venture out and visit a church here and there. But I never felt completely comfortable with one aspect or another. There was always something that I allowed to keep me away.
Over the years, I also used other excuses not to attend church: I was tired after a long week of work or that I needed to spend time with my family. But I never used these excuses when it was something I wanted to do, like go work out at the gym or take a vacation.
Basically, I had used one excuse or another to not get involved in any church.
What I finally came to realize and understand is that behind my own curtain, I was being a hypocrite too. Yes, I admit it! Behind my own curtain, I was judging others for their attitudes or for what they had done or not done.
Here's the truth: everyone has issues. Every church has issues. Churches are run by people. And people are humans, and humans are sinners, myself included.
The difference between them and me was simple: they were at least trying to observe fellowship with other Christians and to serve the Lord.
It really started to weigh on me almost a year ago: I need to adjust my attitude and drop my hypocrisy and get involved.
Now that I'm actively involved in a church, I still see people doing and saying things that I don't necessarily agree with. Or they may do something that I would handle differently. And I'm 100% sure that some would say the exact same thing about me. The difference now, however, is two-fold:
1. I realize that I'm not perfect either, and I'm 100% sure that people won't like the way I say things or handle things at times.
2. The value of fellowship and friendship is both comforting and good for my spiritual soul. Not only can I talk with those who need help, I can talk with those who can help me.
When previously I acted on my own — dealing with the hardships of life all by myself — I now have many Christian brothers and sisters who have my back. There are comfort in numbers!
So, stop the excuses. Stop the judging and forget about what has happened in the past. I promise you, if you join or start participating in a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church, there will be less damage done to you in that church than the damage that will happen to you and your family outside of the church.