Given that "being in church doesn't make you a Christian any more than being in a garage makes you a car," I suppose it's wise for all of us to realize that the "church" will not be made up of perfect people. It might not even be entirely made up of Christians! Ideally, a church will be a body of believers that, as imperfect as they are, choose to grow together in that given church. As "iron sharpens iron", so man can also benefit from the relationships he finds himself in, to accomplish goals, to minister to others, whatever. After all, it is in relationships that we grow. In relationships with each other, and in relationships with God, we are challenged and we learn...
In a recent article, claim was made that a "cult-ish church" is constantly trying to assimilate and reach out to unchurched Christian friends, to bring them back into the fold. The church-goer is painted as one who attends church simply to get their hall pass--a note from God saying it's now OK to go out the rest of the week and live a worldly life. As if a one-hour visit to any place gives you validated parking for the rest of the week! A short visit does not constitute a walk with Christ! That walk is taken step by step, moment by moment, through our entire life with Him.
Some will say they are not angry with God, or their fellow believers, but just choose to not go to church. I would gladly contend that maybe God has someone on a different path; His will for someone else is of course different than His will for me. If the non-churchgoer is not judging the church-goer, great. But if the "Unchurched Christian" is painting an entire people group as a sorry caricature drawn from one angle and one perspective only (using the worst-case example they can find), I find that disappointing.
Some may pride themselves on their own walk; like a hermit on a hill, they have renounced what they perceive to be the superficial accolades of their fellow believers. They are on a spiritual fast, avoiding the church-goer's warm, fuzzy, feel-good high (from all that superficial singing and worship). But that is only a subjective perception. Without going into the mind of that church-goer, how can one really know whether that person is indeed propelled by a superficial high, worshiping the worship and not God Himself?!
I love God the Father. He has created everything. He loves us so much that He sent His own Son. To us!
And I love Jesus, the Son. By His grace, we are healed. He died that sacrificial death on the cross, that we might have eternal life.
And I love the Holy Spirit, by whom we have fellowship with each other!
And yet... some will think I am superficial. Some will judge me for going to church. Some will assume many things about me, like that I go to church simply to feel good. Perhaps that, at the first sign of pain, I will renounce my membership. It's a rather shallow and stereotyped view, isn't it?! Jesus has already told us to take up our crosses--we will suffer in this life. That's what humans do in this imperfect world. But I think that how we get through the suffering depends on our relationship with our Lord...
I think it's crucial that Christians rely on God. We can't worship the blessings, or the pastor, or the brethren. We must worship God Himself!
I don't mean to judge, but I will suspect this: That the "unchurched Christian", compelled to classify me into a certain nook reserved for church-goers, has created another nook. In that nook, the "unchurched Christian" may revel in his own wisdom, in his own struggles to do things right, but he has, in effect, created his own "church"!
(Thanks to 'Mockingbird' for the original post on "Being an Unchurched Christian" though! Much food for thought...)
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