Sunday, September 11, 2016

Church Going Ain't Always What it is Suppose to Be

     I have some neighbors who have not been to church in many years despite both having grown up in the church.  Being a person of curious nature, I inquired of them as to why they no longer attended.  I will have to admit their answer filled me with dismay.  It seems before they quit going to church they went to quite a few trying to find one they could call home.  Jerry, not his real name, confessed to me they simply could not find a church in which they felt welcome so after a while they simply gave up.  Jerry's wife, Samantha, also not her real name, told me she felt like she was being appraised in every church they went into.  "I don't understand why but I just felt so self conscious", she told me.  They both confessed they missed going to church and firmly believed they should be going.
     I recently met a young man who adamantly believes that Jesus Christ could be his savior.  I was a bit perplexed when he explained what he meant by "could be".  He grew up going to church with his parents and the church as well as its members played a large role in his upbringing.  He told me Jesus had always been a big part of his life and he believed he loved Jesus but he was convinced by his parents and other members of his home church that Jesus did not love him.  Barely able to contain myself after hearing this I asked him to please give me one reason he might have come to that conclusion.  Sadly, it is what his father told him point blank about five minutes after he confessed to his family that he was gay.  He tried to continue going to church and just staying away from his parents but the word soon got out and he was shunned and ridiculed by many of the other church members as well.
     A couple of weeks ago I spoke to a homeless man who told me he wanted desperately to go back to church.  The last time he tried, he sat near the back so as not to draw attention to himself.  At the conclusion of the service, one of the associate pastors came to him and asked him to please bathe and wear clean clothes more fitting for worship if he came back.  Being homeless makes it very hard to stay clean and he said he was wearing the best clothes he had.
     I recently heard of a black church of which it was said had an amazing pastor.  The gentleman who told me about it was infirm, living in an elderly care facility, and unable to make the trip to church.  He suggested I give it a try.  I did.  I was not welcomed with open arms.  The looks I received from many in the congregation had me a bit on edge within seconds of walking through the door.  The gentleman I sat next to asked me point blank why I was there.  I responded, "because I love Jesus".  He looked at me angrily and asked, "you couldn't find a white church to love Him in?"  Appalled as well as feeling a bit dejected, I exited the church.  No one made a move to stop me.
      I have written earlier about how the churches in America are responsible for their own demise.  These are glaring examples of just how true that is.  All of this reminds me of the words of Saint Paul in Romans 8: 38-39.  "I am convinced that neither death not life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."   Will mankind ever truly learn the importance of simple love?  Would it not be wonderful if we all could learn to love before the second coming?