“I wasn’t raised in the church, or my church experience was very disappointing! Why should I try again?”
I don’t see the need to follow God, Jesus, Buddha or the Tooth Fairy. My life with or without is the same … really! Inside my head are tons of questions, thoughts and doubts, and if you’re honest, they’re in your head too!
“I don’t go to church because it’s filled with hypocrites. They say one thing and do something else. I don’t think they would accept me for who I am anyway.”
“Believing in something I can’t see, feel or touch seems foolish. I don’t want to look like an idiot in front of others!”
“My life seems to be the same whether I profess faith in Jesus or not. Why bother?”
“I don’t understand why Jesus has not answered my prayers. After all, I simply asked for the “best” for another person. Yet, I am told that I should continue to put my faith in Jesus even though I didn’t get the response I wanted. This makes me wonder “why?”
All of these are good and important questions regarding faith in God. And yes, if we are honest, we all have had them or still wrestle with them to this day. So how do I even begin to answer these questions, which really are questions surrounding the purpose of life? How do I make relative and believable the relationship that the church says God wants to have with me? It seems so far-fetched! Maybe I can pick away at these questions one at a time?
“I wasn’t raised in the church, and it doesn’t seem relevant! Why should I care?”
Having never been raised in the church or had any positive experiences in regards to it, is not the end of the world! In fact, maybe it’s a good beginning? Let’s face it, we always have to start somewhere. Whether its in a new job, a new subject in school or a new relationship we always have a beginning. It’s a fact of human life. Its like the first time I wrote a check. I was young and had just opened my first checking account. I had a whopping hundred dollars in it!
At the mall that day my hand quivered as I wrote the amount of the check in the wrong area. Then with the eyes of the cashier beaming down on me I stumbled to write my name in block letters instead of signing my name. Why? I don’t know, just nervous, I guess. Anyway, I was just starting to feel somewhat confident and accomplished when the cashier handed the check back to me and said; “Congratulations, you just wrote a check to yourself!”
“No problem,” I said. Everyone makes mistakes, just like the time I used hot sauce instead of pizza sauce when making a pizza for the kids. But this is not just a simple mistake. This is important. This is how business is conducted, it will have an affect on my life. I gotta know this stuff! So, I made the commitment that day to learn all of the ins-and-outs of check writing regardless of what should come my way. Later that day, with check photo copies in hand, I sat down to “learn” something new, something important, how to properly write a stupid check while the world starred me down!
Maybe church (or faith in Jesus) is important too? Maybe I need to learn about the reality of Jesus and His church, and not just discount it away as meaningless. Possibly this is another moment of “check writing” that I need to investigate and see if it is really worth pursuing? Maybe it’s the “way” things are done, life is accomplished. Whatever the case, I need to check this out.
Like all things in life, we make them relevant or not. We chose to ascribe various levels of importance to things and ideas. Relevance is directly tied to many things that directly affect our lives. Is it relevant that someone living a thousand miles away should hold a wild party one night? Probably not, it won’t affect me or my life at all. Is it relevant that my part of the world receives a certain amount of annual sunlight? Sure, that affects me directly. Without the sunlight there will be no crops, food or days at the beach, right? Consequently, I ascribe “value” or “relevance” to each situation of life.
As a Pastor I see a lot of death. Its what I call a part of the life cycle. People are born, then live and then they die. So, what’s the point? What’s the purpose? What comes next? Is it relevant? How does it affect me? What’s the deal? Well, it all seems to circle around the meaning (or purpose) of life when you consider it. This is something I’m told the church should be able to unwrap for me. Huh?
Church first of all is a human gathering of broken hypocrites who believe in the relevance and existence of God. The church believes that God does exist and that it is important for us individually and collectively to pursue Him. The church is simply one place to look for Him. Unfortunately, many people get turned off on pursuing God because of the poor experiences they have with “church people.” I think its super important to remember that “church people” are just broken hypocrites too! Dude, they’re writing checks to themselves too!
When you survey life, and look into the windows of history, time and the universe, without hesitation you realize that there’s “gotta be a reason, a purpose behind it all.” Why would all of this exist, and where can I find meaning and purpose too? This happens to be the basis for the twelve major world religions that exist today. Well, the Christian church is supposed to be one of the “signpost” God has established pointing us to His desire to have a relationship with each one of us. Its supposed to be clear. But of course, its not.
In answering the question about “why should I care (about the church and faith),” we find part of the answer resting in the physical world around us. Where did all this come from? Did it really come crawling outta the ooze billions of years ago?” Even scientist today reference what they call “intelligent design” or “a creative force.” In other words, even science confirms that there must be more to life than just this, and it is reasonable to assume that knowing the “designer” or “creator” has tremendous relevance for our future. And by the way, all of the twelve major world religions agree on one thing: the next life (or reality) will last forever.
So why care about church? Why make it relevant? I remember when I was young my parents and others always promoted the value in starting a savings plan early in life. They talked about how later, when I was older, I would be glad that I started saving when I did. Well, I didn’t listen. Ya, I floundered around and spent everything I earned year after year. But today, when the possibility of retirement is just around the corner, I realize the value of looking ahead. Church is simply looking ahead.
The church experience, while I know this sounds iffy, should be a time of exploration and renewal. In church we should find answers to many of life’s big questions, not a bunch of feel good stuff that seems unbelievable and irrelevant. In church, those with questions should find a place of peace, acceptance and comradely, right next to the hypocrite. Just sayin … give it a try … really!