As I walk through the doors, it feels like it’s been forever since the last time…and only just yesterday. Convicted by various messages about church, and heeding the call of my Father, I return. Again. One more time.
I continue to question what my struggle really is: time? people? the songs? the preaching?
And then I see them. As I sit in the very far back seat, I spot them from across the room, the couple who pushed someone I know into making a choice the person didn’t want to make. The parents who should have loved but instead showed disgust. Immediately, I feel all those old feelings again, the ones the cut me deep and led to my own leaving of the church the first time. Like my young friend who now sneers when church or God comes up in a conversation, I became bitter. And I often think that bitterness is still with me.
I feel the anger rise into my face, and I can no longer concentrate on the message being spoken. All I can hear is my young friend’s cry for help, how these people turned their back on her. My worship is drowned out by the fire of pain burning in my heart, and the imaginary conversation I will [never] have with them after the service. I’ll tell them a thing or two!
Taking a deep breath, I am suddenly reminded of a thought that flashed through my own head when I was faced with a difficult parenting decision. The reminder stops me cold, and I feel myself flush, as if my sin is suddenly a sign over my head, pointing at me. “Sinner!” “Has BAD thoughts!” “Sometimes acts on BAD thoughts!”
I glance around, sure others can see me all the way to my soul. Instead, I notice hands raised to the heavens, faces turned upward, some slightly rocking in place while gripping the chair in front of them, others giving in completely. Throughout the sermon, I see some playing on their phones (or, here’s a thought: reading along with the scripture through a bible app), while others scribble notes with enthusiasm. Some nod out their “amens,” while others glance at their watches.
It hits me like a ton of bricks. I’ve turned on the church because I’m just as much of a hypocrite as the next person. We’re all traveling different roads with one common goal in sight — to meet Jesus one day, to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
Some time ago, I came to realize that every time I insulted myself, whether my physical appearance or the person I am, I was insulting God’s work, telling Him He messed up on me. Then I saw this quote:
“When we criticize other Christians, we are actually saying that God’s workmanship does not meet up to our standards and that we could do it better.” —Rick Joyner
Oh, how much time and energy have I wasted on pointing out the flaws of those in attendance at church, other Christians, insulting my Father in heaven?
As the final song plays after a good sermon about Paul and his words to the Galatians, I am reminded of our imperfection — all of us. Of hypocrisy — every one of us. But God also gently reminds me of grace, that I can turn to Him and adjust my heart. That I can seek Him in everything and know that He is our God of mercy and love, and that He also opens our eyes as many times as needed.
My struggle with church isn’t magically fixed, but it’s in a place of healing. I’m much further along in this journey than I was a year ago, and I know that God is still teaching me, leading me, and guiding me as I lean into His love and discipline.
I am a hypocrite, and so church is exactly where I belong.
Latest posts by Angela Giles Klocke (see all)
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