Why bother with church? Isn’t it full of hypocrites? People who say one thing and then act completely different. People who think they are better than the rest. People who gossip, not only about the people outside the church, but also about those who are in the “club.”
And they argue! Oh, they argue! About how to worship and how to take communion. They argue over theology and how to address sin. Heck, they even argue about what actually is sin and what isn’t!
Now, just to be clear. Not everyone who chooses to attend church behaves this way. I know some pretty amazing people within the body of Christ, whose love never fails, not even when they encounter those other church people.
But there are those other church people who are the reason most of us ask, “Why bother with church?”
Yes, those church people can be awful sometimes. And I hate to admit it but I have been one of them. I bet you have a time or two, as well. But just because those church people are difficult (uh, just like you and I can be), we don’t have the right to give up on them. We don’t have permission to avoid or reject them.
Instead we are expected — no, not just expected, we are commanded — to love them as Christ loves each of us.
Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthian church — a church that had a long list of problems:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away… And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 NIV)
Paul wasn’t writing about love between just anyone. He was writing about the love that is suppose to manifests itself between the members of the body of Christ.
He was talking about the love you and I should show to those who profess Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Do you ever ask yourself or others why bother with church? I have. To be honest, church can be a struggle sometimes. I have attended more than one church where I failed to choose love.
I have turned my nose up to the style of worship instead of being kind. Not love.
I have rolled my eyes at the way other churches take communion. I’ve been proud and did not love.
I have argued over theology, dishonoring others and seeking my own agenda. Ugh! Not love!
I have been angry with church leaders, and instead of forgiving I have kept a record of wrongs. NOT LOVE!
I have snickered and whispered I told you so under my breath when things went wrong. I delighted in evil. Not love.
I am so, so guilty of failing to love the body of Christ. I have done it more than once. But praise God! Because He brings this sin to my attention and leads me to repent! And do you know what I’m learning? Do you know what the Holy Spirit is revealing to me? When I love myself more than I love the Church I more likely to wonder why even bother? I am more likely to want to give up on, avoid, and reject God’s people.
God has been revealing something else to me, as well. Love builds up (1 Corinthians 8:1), but love that builds up isn’t easy. It isn’t always roses and rainbows. It can be hard and brutal. It takes patience and kindness. It takes selflessness and humility. It takes a laying down of rights and a whole lot of serving others.
Don’t believe me? Just look at the love Christ displayed while He hung on the cross in order to build up His church.
Love that builds up requires us to be present in the live of those we love. It requires us accept those that may annoy us or make us downright angry.
Love that builds up — love that is true — it is unconditional and undeserved. It is the type of love that Christ freely gives us and it is through Him alone that we will be able to love The Church in the same way.
So why bother with church? Because doing so is an act of love — Christ-like love.
I hope this post has challenged you to examine your own behavior and attitude. Perhaps those church people are not the reason you stay home. Perhaps it’s your lack of love that keeps you away from church. In the past, this has been the case for me. I pray that, in your examination of your heart, if you find any not-love lurking you are willing to confess it. I pray you are willing to rejoice in God’s forgiveness and His cleansing work and allow Him to grow a love for His Church in you.
Only by grace,
Did you miss any of the post in our Why Bother With Church series? If so, please take a moment and read a few. I promise, it won’t be a waste of your time.
- Doesn’t Life Beg the Question: Why Bother With Church?
- Is Out Definition of Church Too Narrow?
- The Battle for Connection
- Chasing Perfect
- When You Don’t Have a Church Home
- Nothing Knocks the Church Down Faster Than Division
- Why the Most Broken and Hurt People Need to Be at Church