Let’s see, the last time I wrote I was pondering if there was a point to addressing sin. A couple of readers responded with comments. I took some time to reflect, pause, reflect again, and more time staring at my screen wondering how much I should say and how much I should keep to myself. Here I am, typing…FINALLY posting this entry. Let’s rewind for a minute and let me explain with a little backstory about myself.
So, the thing is, I have attended church since I was inside my mother’s womb. If you didn’t know already, my father was a preacher before he and my mother were even married. Everything I have learned in life has been through the lens of the Christian experience. When I was a child, I had the innocent mindset that everyone went to church on Sunday and everyone I knew at the church I attended was living with the same moral and spiritual compass that the leaders in church and my parents were teaching me to live by. By the time I became a teenager, church began to feel a lot like it was all a charade. This person was lying, that person was stealing, and so and so was sleeping with so and so. In my experience, the series “Greenleaf” has nothing on reality in churches around this country. That’s another topic altogether. The point I am making here is that once the fog of innocence was cleared, I began to see that everyone in church wasn’t as “perfect” as they had made themselves out to be.
By the time I was in college I was wondering what the point of coming to church was at all. I went through this season where I stopped attending church for months and tried to burry myself in partying. Then it grew from going out to dance and have fun to smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol to have more fun. It was all a distraction for myself to blow off stress from the reality of what was happening to my world of reality. Church people weren’t as great as I grew up thinking that they were, my parents (the pastor and first lady) were separated, quite a few people I grew up with were unmarried and pregnant and if they were not pregnant they were on birth control to keep from getting pregnant while they explored giving in to their sexual desires. Needless to say my circle of friends were not the best influence on helping to guide me back to focusing on God.
I remember my mother would do check-ins with me and ask me every week how service went, assuming that I was going to church because that’s what she raised me to do. I didn’t want her to know that I wasn’t attending church, so I would lie with extreme details like giving a sermon text down to the points of the sermon. Who knew I could come up with sermons so well?! My mother really had no clue until I told her the truth years later.
But there I was, a preacher’s kid, a pastor’s daughter, the church girl (as some of my classmates in elementary school called me, even though we were attending a Christian School), a young woman looking at life through a broken lens that was cracked by the reality that everyone in church doesn’t have the most pristine life, and neither did I. People in church still lie, cheat, steal, gossip, fornicate and anything else they feel like doing. The older people would say they were living Holy on Sunday and Hellish all the other days.
It took some time, but I came to the understanding that I developed a pretty crappy foundation during my early teen years of what a Christian should be. I thought that perfect attendance and following the ten commandments was all that was required of me, and I would make it to heaven. But the thing I began to learn as I recommitted my life to Jesus and grew in relationship instead of following religious traditions was that I wouldn’t lie, cheat, fornicate, gossip and whatever else if I kept my relationship active with God. It’s only through prayer, reading scripture, communicating with others who can hold me accountable, and the correction received through Holy Spirit that a solid walk with Christ can be had. There are too many people in the church, including myself, that learned how to look like a follower of Christ without fruits of transformation through Christ. In my opinion, when this happens, it becomes easy for others to point fingers seeing the church as hypocrites instead of agents of God’s hope.
Even though the church, right now, feels a lot like the first day in an orientation session when the speaker says, “Look to your left, now look to your right…one of you will not make it.” I am determined to believe that there is a remnant that God is using and will use to remind others around us of the holy God that loves us. The louder that the world screams about living for ourselves and doing what satisfies our flesh, the more I pray that God will grant us His mercy to have another opportunity to hear his instruction to live a selfless life for His glory. I pray that we see His grace for the gift that it was meant to be instead of continuing to treat it like collateral for our intentional sinful actions when deliverance is what we need.