We’re like you, but probably worse
Come join us in church.
WORTHINGTON — I’ve had people tell me before that they like Christianity, but since they’re not really ‘churchy’ type of people, they’ve no interest in gathering with the flock on Sundays.
I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean.
I know what they think it means. So many people associate ‘churchy’ types of people with the classic Dana Carvey ‘Church Lady’ character named Edna Strict, the condescending, holier-than-thou host of the 80’s Saturday Night Live talk show sketch called Church Chat. Or maybe they think of Rev. Lovejoy and Ned Flanders from the Simpsons.
If these characters were representative of church members in general, I probably wouldn’t want much to do with them either.
But the Bible paints a much different picture of what a ‘churchy’ person is:
Abraham, the patriarch with whom God established his covenant, had his own mercenary army (Gen. 14:14). His grandson and fellow patriarch, Jacob, was one of the most conniving liars who ever lived (Gen. 25-33), and his sons were even bigger scoundrels than he was (you’d recognize their names if you’re familiar with the 12 tribes of Israel).
King David, whose reign represented the zenith of God’s people Israel, got tangled up in a love triangle that resulted in treason and murder. His son Solomon, the wisest man to ever live (1 Kings 4:30-31), ended up following the whims of his hundreds of wives rather than sticking to God’s commands (1 Kings 11:3).
The 12 characters that Jesus launched his earthly ministry with would have roused Ned Flanders’ okkily-dokily ire, and the first person that Jesus revealed his messianic identity to was the woman at the well, the polar opposite of the snooty Church Lady (John 4).
The first two converts to Christanity were a convicted murderer crucified alongside Jesus and the Roman Centurion who supervised their crucifixion (Luke 23:43 & 47).
Three days later, a group of women the world had cast aside, who weren’t even qualified to be legal witnesses in that day and age, reported Jesus’ resurrection, but not even the disciples believed them (Luke 24:9-12).
The early church grew under the leadership of a converted domestic terrorist named Paul (Acts 8:3) and one of the first pastors established his church amongst the Cretans, people who described themselves as “liars, evil brutes and lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12).
Saint Agustine, one of the greatest theologians ever, wrote openly of his wanton, lust filled past before he picked up a Bible and read the life changing words “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13).
This list could go on and on. Certainly the Church Ladies of the world have occupied their share of pews, otherwise the SNL and Simpsons characters wouldn’t be as funny as they are. But be careful before you pigeonhole all church people as being like them.
Most people who file into churches on Sunday won’t be arrogant nags or uppity moralists. In fact, they probably won’t be much different than you are; maybe a few will be slightly better, but most will probably be worse (especially when we view ourselves from God’s perspective).
We don’t gather together to flaunt what we’re doing, but rather what Christ has done for us. Just like the motley crew that comprised the church people in the Bible, we’ll be celebrating the grace that comes by Christ alone, through faith alone.
Join us this Sunday. You’ll fit right in.
Chad Werkhoven is pastor of Worthington Christian Reformed Church.