We all know about the separation of church and state.
But what about the separation of church and…
Now, before you get all defensive and start throwing bible verses at me, at least hear me out.
You know how when you were a kid, and you did that weird song thing with your hands?
Here is the church,
here is the steeple,
open the doors
and you see all the people!
Let’s dive into that a little deeper, shall we? In my area of town, there are a lot of churches. Every few blocks I’ll see one, ranging from small Hispanic catholic churches to large Christian reformed churches.
But the church isn’t the building. We see this in churches that grow in old convenience stores, or old church buildings that are revamped into tattoo parlors.
Sure, you have have a building. That building may have a steeple. But that’s not the church.
The church is the people.
And guess what! People aren’t perfect. Believers and non-believers, alike. Christians sin, too. A lot. And we struggle with really heavy things.
Pornography (yes, even Christians). Jealousy. Depression. Dishonesty. Loneliness.
This is why we need salvation. Because we’re a broken people.
So we go to the building with the steeple. Listen to a sermon. Sing a few songs. Desperately attempt to look like we’ve got it all together. Check off ‘religious activities’ from our weekly to-do list.
But, despite our dedication for an hour on Sundays,
we still feel empty.
Because religion isn’t about church.
It’s about God.
When I was in middle school and high school, I hated church. Even though I had been raised in the church, I had grown to hate it. I had friends in the church I was raised in, and I felt comfortable there. But in fifth grade, two years before my parents divorced, my mom started going to a different church, and I was forced to go with. And it was awful. I didn’t know anyone and didn’t know how to make friends. I was stubborn and mad. None of the other kids talked to me. I felt so alone.
Middle school at that church got worse. I started getting bullied at youth group. Yes, you read that right. Bullied. At church. I hated those people and how they made me feel.
High school came along, and I had begun to doubt my faith. All the kids I went to church with seemed so fake. They seemed so perfect and godly at church, but at school they swore and cheated. They talked about their friends behind their backs and started rumors about others. They refused to see those who needed friends… those who needed help. I needed help.
If that’s what it looked like to be a Christian, I wanted no part of it.
So, in a final act of desperation, I committed to Cornerstone University. There, I knew I would find answers. I would learn what it really meant to be a follower of Christ.
And now, as I prepare for my final year here, I can definitely say that I’ve had my questions answered, and, most importantly, I’ve found what it means to truly be a Christian.
Through my classes, chapel services, friendships and personal time, I had come to the realization that I had been looking for answers in all the wrong places.
I had gone to Creation instead of the Creator. I had been relying on people to fill my needs, instead of on God, the only One who could.
People are sinful. They will disappoint you, hurt you, lie to you, judge you, make you feel small. But God loves you, and is omnipresent. Always there, always listening. God is perfect– and He wants to save you.
So my friends, don’t let the church scare you away. Christianity is a relationship, not a set of rules. And we are all growing and learning together. And, through the will of the Lord, we can learn to forgive.
Church is still important. The Lord enables His people with His word so they can share it and enlighten others. The church is crucial to the growth and development of any believer. It is a place to go to get answers and help for life’s big problems. A place to be spiritually fed and nourished. If one church just isn’t working for you, it’s okay to try another.
Put your trust in the Lord, not people.
We are only the bride…
He is the King.
“Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden by God, who created all things.”
Ephesians 3:8-9 (NIV)