In 2016, due to my personal struggles with Christianity, I almost lost my faith. I believed in God and loved Him, but was so sick and tired of His people. Despite having amazing Christian friends, I found myself developing a bias towards most Christian denominations.
My frustration with the body of Christ led me to believe that the whole system of Christianity had to be wrong due to the type of people it produced. Believers who were condescending towards other churches because of theological differences, which led to hypocrisy, pride, and arrogance.
The Goal Is Authenticity And Growth, Not Perfection
In that season of my life, I had just moved to a new city where I would spend the next month. I was excited to find a new church, hoping that a new environment would help broaden my perspective and change some of my negative perceptions of the Christian faith. To my disappointment, the first church I attended intensified the negative feelings I had been wrestling with. The service was DEAD, it felt like a funeral that people were forced to attend.
The following Sunday, I attended a more liberal church service, where I started questioning everyone’s salvation (lol). While talking to people at the liberal church, I subconsciously went through an internal checklist to evaluate their faith and spiritual maturity.
To be fair, I also applied this list to myself because I had become so apathetic toward everything about Christianity. Attending church became a drag and I couldn’t bear the thought that I was gradually becoming overly judgmental, the very thing I despised about Christians.
In retrospect, I now see that judgmental people are often struggling with some internal conflict which makes them more aware of people’s sin and imperfections, and they lash out to divert the attention away from their own issues. Being overly judgmental stunted my own spiritual growth.
In all honesty, as much as I wanted to leave Christianity, I couldn’t think of a better alternative. I tried to imagine life without God, even though He was not the main problem. Imagine breaking up with someone amazing because you don’t want to deal with their crazy family — that’s exactly how I felt.
Through a song, God reminded me of the story in the book of John where Jesus knew those who genuinely believed in him and those who just went along for the ride. As he confronted the people, some of the disciples stopped following him.
64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
I felt like Jesus was asking me that same question he asked his disciples and Peter’s response pierced straight through my heart.
I know that as Christians, we are called to unite and be members of one body (Ephesians 5:30), (Colossians 3:15). As much as our Christian walk is individual, we cannot separate ourselves from the Church. The church is vitally important for growing in Christ. Like a branch that grows because of its connection to a tree. We are called for something far greater than our own individual salvation and sanctification — we are called to serve one another.
Over time, I have met Christians who have challenged some of my views.
They encouraged me to listen to preachers I would normally dismiss because they did not live up to my ideal standard of a pastor. After listening to a few encouraging sermons, I realized that some of these pastors were deep and Christ-centered, despite their swag and corny jokes.
An Imperfect Church Displays God’s Perfect Grace
I have yet to find the perfect church because perfect people don’t exist. I have learned not to look for perfection, but authenticity. Whenever I attend a new church, I look for communities where people are willing to grow, take off their masks and leave their pretentious ways behind.
We cannot hold God accountable for people’s actions. We live in a fallen world full of broken and imperfect beings, and the church is not exempt from this. Jesus did not come to unite righteous people, but to call sinners unto repentance. God using imperfect beings to fulfill his work is a perfect display of His grace.
Like a CEO who starts his organization with a lot of unqualified people who have nothing to offer him. Despite their inadequacies, he sees their capability and through the organization, he has everything they need to foster growth.
Rejecting God based on the imperfections we see within the body of Christ is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Remember that Christians will disappoint, but Jesus won’t.