Sometimes our real lives, our attitudes and our behaviors are messy. But instead of hiding our messes and pretending they don’t exist, we need to bring them out into the light and deal with them head on. The bravery it takes to unmask the mess is something my friend Julie possesses. Today she is here sharing why we need to bother with church. She courageously handles this subject and gently reminds us how we, the hands and feet of Jesus, need to love and accept broken people. I’m sure you will be moved by her words. Only by grace, Kelli
I don’t know if it was the pristine red carpet, or the fact I had to wear my fancy dress and shiny black Mary Jane shoes, but church made me feel like only the best was accepted. Heaven forbid if I wore jeans or made a loud noise during the service.
The whole place including the organ made me self-conscious. Was I good enough to be welcomed there? Would I be good enough for Jesus?
In the eyes of a child, the members in their Sunday best seemed inclusive and formed in packs already. These church people appeared unfriendly and uninviting to me. When I was an adult in this church, it wasn’t much better. It was hard to break into the pecking order.
A friend was cohabiting and Pastor wouldn’t marry them. Another acquaintance’s son committed suicide and she wanted a funeral and this couldn’t happen.
When did church stop embracing broken humans? When did rituals and rites become more important than people? Religion more important than relationships?
It’s Not a Country Club
Country Clubs are privately owned clubs with closed memberships. Before the 1960s they could be very exclusive clubs where membership was only offered to certain people and classes of people. These country clubs were in essence for the upper class of Americans. Minorities would be excluded until the 1960s.
Privileged people protected their club from the common person.
Sound familiar? Have our churches come across this way?
I’ve heard this a few times, “they wouldn’t accept me and my past.” “My lifestyle wouldn’t be welcomed there.” “People would judge me.”
Here’s the thing, God comes to us when we’re broken and wants to take us to our best.
Christianity is a journey. We change when we get in a relationship with our Savior.
If we were at our best, we wouldn’t need a Savior.
Why do we turn away people in their brokenness?
There are a lot of people struggling right now who just want to feel loved and accepted, right where they are, not where they need to be.
1 Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. 3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
11 “No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
Church Extending and Opening Arms
Did you notice it? The religious people wanted to exclude her because of her brokenness, but Jesus accepted her and loved her as she was right there.
When she felt loved and accepted by her Savior, she could empower herself to change and grow more like her Savior. Broken to blessed and changed into a Christian.
Isn’t this the cornerstone of our faith? Jesus came down from heaven to die on the cross for our sins and messy mistakes.
Why do we exclude those messy people, but in reality we should be seeking them out?
We all struggle and need to find a place where we are welcomed in with open arms. When our life is falling apart and we are at the end of our rope. Jesus is this safe place and His church needs to be His hands and feet, physically embracing the messy and discouraged.
Jesus had an affinity to the weak and the broken, the people who wanted second chances and needed to feel love. Jesus would seek out these people.
When I went through a dark period in my life, I stayed away from church. I felt too guilty and shameful to be present. I was embarrassed that others would judge me. Instead, my church should be the place I need to be at when I’m in pain because I know they understand sin and pain.
We have a huge mission field right outside our door. Millions are struggling and trying to fill the gaping holes in their hearts with stuff. Our churches need to be the place to seek out the hopeless and helpless. Broken and sinful people extending their arms to other broken people on this journey from mess to masterpiece, only through the grace and mercy of Jesus.
Romans 15:7 (NLT) Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
Julie Loos is the mom of 5 kids and has been happily married to Greg for 17 years. She loves to read, eat chocolate, drink iced tea and spend time writing in the midst of messes. You can find her blog at www.unmaskingthemess.com.