Sometimes I think we all forget that the church is made up by people like you and me. It’s full of imperfect people who, despite being forgiven of their past, still struggle to escape it. There are people who go, not because they are Christians, but because they think it’s good to go. There are people who go only because they want their children to be exposed to it. There are people who go in order to find absolution for something they’ve done that they can’t forgive themselves of.
There is no one perfect in any church. Not the pastor, preacher, priest, rabbi or person sitting next to you in the pew. Somehow, we expect them to be because they are Christians. We expect them to always say the right things, do the right things and to drop everything to pay attention to us. When that doesn’t happen, we label them hypocrites. We say the church is full of people who are fake. Yet, we don’t go look in the mirror and hold ourselves to that same perfect standard.
If the church was truly full of perfect people, why would anyone want to go there? I’m glad the church has hypocrites, liars and cheaters in it. That means that there are people there who know they don’t have it all together, but they know the place where they can go to get help. They recognize they don’t have all the answers so they go to the place where they can find some of the answers to their questions. The person up front doesn’t have all the answers either. They’ve just chosen to be an imperfect person who has submitted to being the one whom God could speak through.
So many of us have left churches or church all together because we’ve held an imperfect person to a perfect standard. It’s a standard that not even we ourselves could ever live up to. I’ve been on churches all over the world and I’ve yet to meet a person in one of them who ever claimed to be perfect or had the ability to always say the right thing. I’ve learned to cut people a lot of slack for things they have said or done that have offended me because I need that same grace from them. I say and do things that offend others too because I’m not perfect. The fact that I go to church doesn’t somehow prevent me from doing that.
This Sunday is “Back to Church Sunday”. If you’ve ever left the church because you were offended or held an imperfect person to a perfect standard just because they were a Christian, I want to invite you to go back this weekend with a different set of lenses on. Go in with eyes that recognize the people in there are just like you. They don’t have it all figured out, they might be hypocrites, they might be liars, but know that they’re there in order to change from those ways. Put aside your pride and offer them the same grace you want them to offer you.
I look forward to seeing you in church this Sunday. If you’re looking for someone who is perfect, you won’t find them. But if you’re looking for a friendly face on an imperfect person, I’ll save you a seat next to me. I hope that you’ll give church a second chance this weekend.
Click here for a short video that I saw earlier this week about “Back to Church Sunday” that I think you’ll like.