It seems to be acceptable to criticize the Church these days. In some cases, it is almost expected that people will have something negative to say about the Church. The criticism can range from being full of hypocrites to everyone accepting a political leader without question. There is the frequent finger-pointing about being judgmental or lacking in kindness. Through the years I have heard it all.
Honestly, I understand this critical spirit from nonbelievers. They do not accept or trust what we teach so why would they see the good in it. It is easy to throw rocks at that which you do not affirm or understand.
What I can’t comprehend is the disapproving attitude among Christians. We are on the same side. Jesus himself said, “for whoever is not against us is for us (Mark 9:40 NIV).”
The Church has never claimed to be a perfect place. It is not a group of individuals who have achieved total Christlikeness. Instead, we have an incredibly diverse group of people striving to learn and grow. Many have not put down deep roots, and others are distracted by the worries of this world. I believe about two-thirds of the people who come to Church will never reach spiritual maturity. But, I would rather them gather with an assembly of other Christians than for them to be anywhere else in the world.
Instead of being critical what if we …
1. Celebrate the Good in the Church. There are hundreds of positive things that happen every week in the life of any Church. Just this week I have seen a woman decide to be baptized. I have visited with an elderly woman who told me about the other ladies in the Church coming to spend time with her. I know of individuals who are praying each day earnestly. The list could go on and on. There are numerous positive things to celebrate if we open ourselves up to it.
2. See the Potential in People. Sure, there are messed up people in the Church, but that does not mean it is their final chapter. Michelle and I were talking about the transformation we have seen in a man over the last two years. He is becoming a better husband, father, and friend to the other members of the Church. We are not what we will one day be, but thank God; we are not what we once were.
3. Lose Your Critical Glasses. It seems that once we see something that bothers us, that is all we can notice after that experience. One person says something mean, and we quickly identify their “group.” They are a liberal or a Republican or a millennial. Then we paint everyone in that group from a negative viewpoint. Ask yourself, “Am I viewing that person on their own merit or on conclusions I have drawn about them?”
I believe that Christians are wonderful people. Are some quirky? Yes. Are some opinionated? Yes. Are some wrong? Sure. Am I better than those people? No. I need the same grace they need. We are brothers and sisters, not clones. We are part of a family. As the song says, “I am so glad I am a part of the family of God.”