Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Lifelong Struggle With Christianity (and the Church)

I have had a lifelong struggle with Christianity and the Church.

Well, maybe that's a little bit fabricated because if you knew me as a child, you know that I really loved singing and dancing along to "Father Abraham" and reading through my picture Bible.

I guess my real struggle with Christianity (and the Church) came in high school and lasted all until about last year.

Throughout my teens (and early 20's), I really struggled with insecurity and wanting to belong (shocker!). Because of this, I had some "good" church friends, and some "bad" party friends. Herein-lies my first struggle: the constant comparison between "good" and "bad." I was labeled "good"  by some of my "bad" friends and "bad" by some of my "good" friends. I cringed a little bit when myself and others would share their testimony and say "I used to hang out with really bad people. It made me do really bad things and then I found Jesus and my life is good." Good, bad, good, bad.

I then struggled with how the words "good" and "bad" were defined. Because some of my "good" Christian friends (myself included) were making some of the exact same decisions the "bad" people were making. Were we "good" because we went to church and knew what to say and do to hide it?

 My second struggle was this: why are we labeling and judging people "good" or "bad"? Why aren't we loving and welcoming to the "bad" people? Why do us "good" Christians need to hide our struggles? Why do I need a relationship with Jesus if I can be "good" or "bad" without Him?

I became extremely resentful of the Church and how easy it is to be superficial and to answer every Sunday school answer as "Jesus" and still feel so lost.

I let these feelings become excuses. I let resentment due to my perceptions shape my belief system. I let others control my faith.

Like I said, these are all the views of a very impressionable, insecure girl. A girl who has been judged (and judged others). A girl who doesn't always give grace but expects it from others. A girl who spent a lot of nights making decisions not because she was "bad" but because she was very lost and looking for somewhere to belong. A girl who had taken on the very same attitudes she was accusing the Church of having.

If you look past the things I said about the Christianity and Church, you will see a  reoccurring theme. All of my views were shaped on my selfishness and my expectations. I was excusing my sin by fixating on the flaws of the people of the Church. I also missed entirely what a relationship with Jesus was all about...

At the end of the day, I am accountable for one and only one person's life. And that's my own. I do believe that at the end of our lives, we will all stand before Christ and give an account for each of our lives.

Because of this, I want to love the Church  ("Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and give himself up for it." Ephesians 5:25). (If we were all perfect, why would he have to die for us!?)

 I want to follow Christ's example and instruction ("Jesus replied 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Matthew 22:37-39  and "Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28: 18-20 )

I want to stop judging (Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:7)

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