I did not grow up in church. I was more of an occasional visitor with friends on the weekends.
Although, there was a period spanning over about a year that my mom obsessed, revolving her entire (and I mean entire) existence around Catholicism, forcing my brother and I to go to what I think are called ‘CCD’ classes.
This was not because a major lifestyle change had occurred, it was more like a well-meaning obsession fueled by mania after my youngest brother passed away unexpectedly. Regardless, we still did not ever get ‘involved’ with the church by any stretch of the imagination.
As an adult, after I got baptized, I began attending a church. As a brand new baby believer, I was still learning about myself. I basically knew a few things. I knew that Jesus died for me. I knew a few stories about him, but I didn’t know much else.
I didn’t know many stories from the bible, I didn’t know the books of the bible or how to pronounce most of them…
(After all, I was also still detoxing. My brain was still just trying to process and come to grips with all of the gratitude that I was experiencing. I was still just surprised to be alive at that point and was still very uncomfortable at sitting at church on Sundays, I had just got comfortable with the idea of being in a church on a Thursday evening.)
I was still silently asking God if he was compleeeeetley sure that I was good enough to be there.
(Like maybe he had me confused with someone else)..
We ended up buying a house in another city and that meant I had to look for a new church to go to. After a few years of searching around, Googling, praying, visiting, and taking breaks from visiting random churches- we finally settled on one.
It was the first place that we had really tried to be a part of and get to know the people sitting in the pews.
I am not sure why I was so surprised when I realized that the place was filled with people a lot like me.
No, they weren’t all people who have struggled with addiction, but everyone seemed to have experienced some kind of struggle. No one in there was perfect.
Churches aren’t perfect. (Whaaaat?)
Ya. I know, right? It sounds obvious, like um- yes. Churches are indeed, filled with people. I am just not sure that being so new to the church culture, that I understood what it really meant. For years I had imagined buildings full of perfect people; people who came from good healthy homes, who I had no business interacting with.
But they are filled with imperfect people.
Imperfect people who love Jesus.
Churches are filled with people from different cultures, different cities, diverse personalities, temperaments, experience, sensitivity, emotional capacity, baggage, problems, regrets, age, color, style, tolerance levels concerning modernism, different preferences, and the list could go on and on and on…….
I thought that was the greatest thing.
That is what it is all about!
Bringing all kinds of people together in HIS name!
That is a great way to know that God is definitely a part of it.
I find it fascinating that I had always assumed that church ran itself?
Or that you had to be a certain type of person to belong to a church.
I was wrong.
No! We are all just a bunch of sinners who love Jesus, who are trying to do better.
We prayerfully take each day one day at a time, seeking consistent growth.
What I have learned so far is this.
1. Most stereotypes are way off base.
It is not right to judge based off of assumption.
2. People aren’t perfect, and people make up what is the Church.
It is not the building, and God seems to like diversity.
Our only real duty is to encourage one another, pray for each other, worship and fellowship with each other, disciple and strengthen each other, and learn from each other, so that we can all grow into healthy and strong believers in Christ.
Our doors should remain open for the lost, the sick and the broken.
We have different abilities + gifts
and we are all on different parts of a path- different places in our walk
The church is the place where we come together- meshing our personalities because——-
we love us some Jesus.
We have the merciful and unique gift of salvation,.
God brings us together in HIS name for HIS glory and HIS purposes.
If we remember that, everything else should be able to be worked out.
I am truly grateful for the people that I have crossed paths with on this journey of mine, and cannot believe that God is this merciful to a sinner like me.
I am humbled and pray that I continue to stay that way.
So keep that in mind. It doesn’t matter where you came from, or if you have never been a part of a church. It is okay to shop around and find one that is right for you, and feel that you belong there- because you do.
And when you find the one that feels like home, don’t hold people to unattainable standards of perfection that don’t exist for anyone, including people who believe in Jesus.