My friend CJ and I were chatting about the “latest and greatest” when our conversation steered toward popular re-posts that occur on our FB timelines. CJ chatted about one that he had seen recently and I thought that what he was thinking was important. I wanted him to write down his thoughts about it and I would post them on the blog. As he submitted this to me he mentioned that his writing took him to unexpected places; that his writing was a catharsis experience.
This photo has been floating around Facebook for the past few days. I think it is hilarious. Not because of the front-facing joke, but because of the underlying one. I think it is hilarious, insidiously so, that Christians are trying to coax non-believers in to church by passing judgment on their reasons for not attending church.
Also, the joke does not even make sense. The joke should be “Not going to church because there are sinners there is like not going to a gym because there are out of shape people there.” Or “Not going to church because there are hypocrites is like not going to the gym because there are in shape people there who are casting judgment.” The issue at hand is most certainly not hypocrisy, but the judgment that betrays the hypocrisy. I go to church to meet with God wherever I am at that particular day.
A month ago, that meant going to church dejected and feeling worthless. Two days prior to that service, my divorce had been finalized. I felt filthy. At the end of the service, communion was offered. I didn’t feel worthy to partake in the body and blood of Christ, or to call myself a member of His family. I wept as I asked God how I could take communion after such a monumental failure on my part. It was then that I felt His nudge. I needed communion now more than ever. I needed to feel radically included in His body and feel radically connected to my fellow believers. Those I worshipped with that night made me feel so included, despite my shortcomings. It was holy.
Compare that to my departure from the last church I chose to worship at. When the staff found out about my pending divorce, I was called in to question as a man, as a husband, and even as a Christian. It was painful. At a time when I needed Godly people to uplift and encourage me, they chose to use scripture as a bludgeon. That was only my second (and last) conversation with anyone on leadership at that church.
The truth of the matter is that our hypocrisy is only conveyed through our judgment. People are not upset that we sin and yet preach not to. People are upset that we pretend like any sin (homosexuality, divorce, and premarital sex to name a few) is worse than our own. On any given Sunday I am no worse off and no better off than anyone in that room and we need to quit acting like that is not the case. We have made a social career out of demonizing certain sins while ignoring the greed, gluttony, selfishness, and corruption that is allowed to grow within our church walls. We are so busy looking for certain sins that we turn a blind eye to the multitude of other sins going on within the church. We need to stand together and realize that no sin is greater than any other sin and that no sin is greater than the blood and cross of Jesus.
I used to have a membership to the YMCA. I cancelled it because I never went. I never went because I am not a skinny guy and going to their facilities made me feel self-conscious. I now work out at Planet Fitness. They advertise a “judgment free” environment in which to work out, and I feel like they maintain that. Wouldn’t it be great if our churches could do the same?