Lately I’ve been pondering the effects of loud-mouthed, hate-spouting Christians on the spiritual lives of people who no longer go to church. Why are people unchurched? How do once-faithful church-going Christ-followers become atheists? Some will say it’s because they got turned off from church. Yet, they stay away from the church because they feel shunned, unwelcome, ostracized.
Let’s say I’m dating a guy who is a Dungeon Master. I happen to be at his home while he’s hosting a game, and all the players present start trash talking me based on some area of brokenness or imperfection in my life. I mean, they’re wicked and cruel and hateful when I haven’t done anything to them. My hypothetical boyfriend tells them this isn’t the right way to be, but they continue to treat me poorly. I’m not going to break up with my boyfriend because of the way these people treat me, am I? No! I’ll just not be where these haters are. Thankfully, there are other options of places to go.
So I attend another game that my boyfriend is mastering, this time with another group of gamers. This group sees me and recognizes me as someone who is just as imperfect as they are. In fact, before they see my areas of brokenness, they might fear that I’m going to judge them based on their imperfections. Yet, as we get to know each other better, we discover our similarities, and unlike the first group, this group welcomes me warmly to be with them.
A lot of churches treat sinners the same way as the first group, and sadly, many Christ-followers “break up” with God as a result. Yet, these church members honestly and truly believe that they’re justified in their behavior, because there’s no room at church for “sinners like those,” failing to realize that all of us are sinners, and no one sin is worse or better than any
other. I happen to believe that God’s judgment on people like this will be more demanding because they have caused others to stumble.
There are a lot of self-righteous, holier-than-thou people out there who truly believe that churches are made for people as perfect as they think they are. Just because a group of people won’t accept you wholeheartedly – imperfections, brokenness and all – doesn’t mean that their God agrees with them. Find another group, folks who’ll welcome you into fellowship with other broken people. Come back to the One who might have been your first love, because that One still loves you.
Edited to add: Every gamer I’ve met has been at the very least polite and cordial, though some are warm and huggy – just like everyone else is. I haven’t met anyone who’s been cruel and judgmental.