I have to admit, I do enjoy quiet time at home. That doesn’t mean I’m agoraphobic or anything. I do enjoy going out and doing things, but I also enjoy the serenity of home. There is a peace, a comfort, even a safety in being at home. More than anything, I’m in control of my environment at home.
When you’re out, you have to deal with people who seem to have forgotten they share the world with others. They think that because their turn signal is on, they have a Constitutional right to just merge into your lane even if you’re currently occupying the very space into which they’re moving. Or at the grocery store. What happened to honoring personal space? I feel as if I should ask them to back off so I don’t accidentally burden them with having to see my debit card’s PIN as I’m checking out. And when did it become socially acceptable for people to subject everyone within earshot to their profanity? I mean, didn’t it used to be embarrassing to talk like that in public, especially when around children?
I’ve had a few random conversations with people recently which I found worthy of thought. There’s a guy who runs a barbeque joint about a mile from me. He has all kinds of Christian stickers, scriptures and quotes stamped all over his place, so I asked him what church he goes to. He told me he doesn’t believe he has to go to church. He had a well-rehearsed monologue saying why he feels the way he does, but the more he spoke, the more he peeled back the layers to the real reason. He’s in an interracial marriage, and he claims they’ve had trouble finding a church that would accept them.
I’ve had several conversations with people like this man over the years. Despite their different experiences, they’ve all said the very same thing, almost verbatim. “I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.” Technically, that’s true. However, here’s the thing. In each of these people, their reasoning always leaves a trail of bread crumbs that leads directly to some unresolved hurt. They have stories of feeling betrayed. Feelings of not being accepted. They have felt that way for years. And guess what. Their Homebody Church hasn’t challenged them to forgive. Their Homebody Church hasn’t challenged them to let go of their hurts. Their Homebody Church hasn’t challenged them to accept others as they wish others would accept them. Instead, their Homebody Church has stunted their growth and maturity. They still have chips on their shoulders.
Like oblivious drivers on the road, like invasive knuckleheads in the store, people are people. Yes, even in church. I had a bad experience in a church within the first year of my decision to become a Christian. I was hurt badly. But even then, as an 18 year old in my first church, immature in every sense of the word, I was able to distinguish between God and His people. I remember praying these very words:
“God, you’re cool. But your people suck.”
What these words lacked in eloquence, they made up for in honesty. Yes, I’ve been there. I could have gone the route of making my own church the way I’ve set up a home office for my business. But I can honestly say that despite the difficulties I’ve experienced with some people, I have grown as a man and as a Christian by being faithful in my attendance. Even on the days when I absolutely didn’t want to interact with anyone, I’d still attend. I’d slip in and slip out without dealing with anyone. But God was faithful to meet me there.
- Would He still love me if I had stayed home? Absolutely.
- Would I have loved Him if I had stayed home? No question.
- Would I still have a chip on my shoulder and judgment in my heart if I stayed home? Without a doubt.
- Is there much I would have missed out on in my own spiritual and social development in applying God’s word to every facet of my life? I can’t say yes emphatically enough.
Hebrews 10:24-25 says this, “24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.“
Yes, there are times we’re genuinely hurt. Sometimes, others really do us wrong. Other times, it very well may be us to have done wrong and hurt people. There comes a time when we have to grow up and deal with it. Yesterday was the Super Bowl. I’m reminded of one of my favorite football players of all time, Ronnie Lott. In a very important game against the arch rival Dallas Cowboys, Lott’s pinky finger on his left hand was mangled in a play. I’ll spare you the gory details. You can Google it if you want. But suffice it to say that no one would have questioned his toughness had he come out of the game and even missed future weeks due to his gruesome injury. Instead, he taped what was left of his pinky to his ring finger, and played not only the rest of the game, but the rest of the season in excruciating pain.
Sometimes we just need to play hurt. That may sound insensitive, but it’s a fact of life.
We need each other. We even need the difficult experiences brought on by people who rub us the wrong way. We need to learn how to coexist with all kinds of people. We need to learn how to forgive. We need to learn how to let go of the bitterness. We need to humble ourselves and not judge everyone as guilty and inferior because we’ve been hurt. It is no excuse to turn your back on attending church.
Can you still be considered a Christian if you don’t go to church. Yeah. But just like the person who chooses to stay home and never leave their house in order to insulate themselves from any bad things which could happen if they ventured out, I have to question the quality of your Christian life when you seclude yourself from God’s family. Besides, you must know the truth of where the most injuries and deaths by accident occur. The safe route is actually the most dangerous.