I always listen intently when a person describes why they do not believe in God. It’s important to me to have an open mind and to hear them out. I seek out known atheists and read or listen to their points of view because I want to know what the world is thinking. I’ve never thought that I was better than someone who doesn’t believe, that would be ridiculous. Those that do, prove themselves wrong by even thinking such a thing.
Pedophile priests, crooked finances, hypocritical leadership, historical violence, and a lack of support for science by the church are the top reasons that I have heard for rejecting God. It’s the sin and ignorance within that keeps most out, or at least that is what they say, and I can’t blame them.
As a Christ follower I am even more angry at the brokenness in the Church than someone on the outside looking in. They are righteously mad at the actions themselves. I am furious at the actions and maybe even more so at the consequences. Our sin, yes OUR SIN, inside the Church, and the reports of it, does more to keep people away from faith than anything else. And I for one, couldn’t be more broken hearted about it.
The thought that those who supposedly have a relationship with God are the ones that drive others away is an irony that hurts my brain. Our lives are supposed to be the example that draws others in, lives made new by the renewing power of the Holy Spirit. But we fail, and we do it with oh so much flare.
Somewhere along the line we have transformed grace into high horse onto which we climb, in order to look down on others. If anything the grace we received, as a gift from Christ on the Cross, should humble us. When we distort it we find ourselves hating rather than loving, belittling rather than encouraging, and forgetting that we are no better, in fact we are probably worse, than those who have yet to find amazing grace themselves.
The Apostle Paul calls himself the “worst” or “chief” of sinners in 1 Timothy 1:16. The “worst of sinners”? That’s right! Paul the Apostle, who wrote most of the New Testament and planted more churches than most of us could even dream of, knew that just because he was forgiven, he was no better than anyone else. He lived his life regretting his past, but also bathed in grace, and never finding himself looking down on, but more likely than not, looking up at those around him.
A lost lamb is no worse than a found one, it’s only lost. Lost people mean just as much to our Father in heaven as we do, they are just lost. Jesus even said that he would leave the group that are found in order to find the one that is lost (Matthew 18:12).
Do our action seek to find lost sheep or push them further away? In the midst of our sin do we imagine more than our own consequences? Do we create more excuses for others to reject God or do we strive to eliminate them?
Our sins, (and following Paul’s example) of which I have many, hurt more than ourselves and those around us, they hurt the Kingdom. Our dirty secrets, hidden agendas, and pride, have the capacity to keep others from Jesus and eternal life, and that is scary to me.
I know that I rarely have a clue and that I am as broken as anyone, but I pray that my life would have a magnetism towards God rather than a repulsion.
Father God, transform my heart and mind, destroy my pride, use me to draw others to you. I am not my own, I was bought for a price, use this life as you see fit. Use this broken man to glorify yourself and to grow your kingdom. Not my will but yours.