I'm a mess...

I saw this on Facebook this morning and wanted to share:  "I'd rather attend church with messed up people seeking after God, than religious people who think they're his enforcers." (www.Facebook.com/ ChristEffect)  If we were really honest here we might want to evaluate which "pew" we are sitting in at the moment!  Are we the seekers? Or are we the religious righteous who have to hammer home the "rightness" of our beliefs and the "wrongness" of the behaviors of others?  Sometimes we get a little too "religious" and not enough "real" in our faith.  I know I'd rather be in a huge church of real people, free to be real myself, than to live up to someone's standard of "religious" which is almost impossible for me to live up to anyway.

Be humble. Be gentle. Be patient. Tolerate one another in an atmosphere thick with love. (Ephesians 4:2 VOICE)

Love doesn't overlook sin, it helps someone move from that place of bondage to the sin into the place of freedom. Along the way, it also gives plenty of grace because many a stumble will occur along the way.  There are times we work very hard to cover our sins up simply because we think others will judge us for being "Christian", but still messing up on occasion.  I lose my temper once in a while. I get a little too self-centered on occasion.  I make comments bordering on gossip at times.  I think thoughts I am not supposed to be thinking.  These are very real issues for me and I am a Christian! I am not perfect, but I do know that grace has a way of not only providing a way of escape before I do these things, but it also has a way of providing for my restoration when I do!

I've attended churches with "dress codes" to those who just welcomed you in whatever way you were comfortable coming. I think there is some validity to asking people to consider modesty in their attire, but I don't think requiring dresses and panty-hose is reasonable.  I do think tattoos are not for me, but I don't think we exclude those who wear full sleeves of them and have body art galore.  There is to be a "reasonableness" in the "standards" we "enforce" within the walls of God's church.  Jesus didn't exclude the lepers - he sought them out.  He didn't ostracize the thief, but welcomed him into the kingdom.  He didn't reject the immoral woman of the night, but met her need for love with the greatest love anyone could ever find.

The truth is we often don't realize how "restrictive" our "religion" has become until we take a good look at "why" we are standing upon the belief or standard by which we are judging another. Those may be tough words for some to handle, but I make no apologies. I have had to do this myself many times. I have had to stop, consider my "stand" in light of scripture and then ask God what he'd do when faced with the same things. 

Although I wouldn't tattoo my body, it doesn't mean my children didn't tattoo their own. Imagine the shock when I saw my daughter's and then found out my son actually bought a gun to do his own!  It doesn't make me love them any less - in fact, I love them more today despite the dumb things each of them has done along the way from being kids to being pretty awesome adults.  We might think we have to have done the things another has done to love them - but I challenge us to accept loving them, not because of what they haven't done, but regardless of what they have done. I think God is like that - he sees us doing all kinds of dumb things, in all kinds of dumb ways, and he reaches out in love anyway - even when we repeat the same dumb stuff time and time again.  He values real people - makes a way for real people to deal with their real problems - and loves them even when their "real" life is kind of messed up!  Just sayin!


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