People are called to love Jesus and the Church

by Sena Hughes

“I love God, but hate religion.” “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than standing in a garage makes you a car.” “I’m a spiritual person, but not really religious.”

These are the common statements of people everywhere, justifying their lack of interest in church. Church: just the name sounds dry and archaic. Rickety pews, musty hymnals and funny-smelling old people. Church attendance is on the rapid decline.

Not to mention, the church can be a disgrace. Too often we see protests, ignorant social statements, conservative politics, televangelism, money-hoarding, self-centeredness  and so on serving as the public face for Christianity.

Then consider the corruption within church. Arguments, division, scandals, cheating backstabbing sadly clog the community called “Christian” as much as, if not more than, any other community.

Saint Augustine once said, “The church is a whore, but she’s my mother.”

Most people probably don’t have a hard time associating with the first part of that statement, but the second we reject with a rather firm, “no thank you.”

Each time I see another ridiculous headline about some awful Christian leader making an irrational statement about something they really are not educated about or hear about another church polity meaning gone awry, I wonder why I do it or why anyone does it for that matter.

“But she’s my mother?” More often than not, I’d rather not be related to the church, but everyone knows that quirky family member that we don’t always like, but we love unconditionally.

The fact of the matter is, the church is a place full of sinners. Jesus himself said he didn’t come to call the righteous, but the sinners. And though we are sinful, at the core of Christian doctrine is a message of overwhelming grace and immense love. When we find camaraderie with other Christians because of that unmerited mercy we have been given, we call it church. When we join this church–this family, this body of believers–we are then bound not only to a communion with God, but a communion with one another.

Sure, someone can believe in Jesus and not attend church every Sunday, but the nature of the Christian faith is relationship and testament to what Christ has done. Christianity is not meant to be a loner’s club, but a body and an active, working, moving, breathing union. Eventually that person who thinks he or she can do it on his or her own will burn out.

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