You walk in the door, the walls don’t cave in and the place doesn’t go up in flames like you thought it would, so that’s probably a good sign. It’s 11:05 but you promised yourself you were going to see what this Church thing is all about. It doesn’t matter if you’re late as long as your there, right? The doors close behind you and then it happens. Every head in the church turns around and begins to stare a hole through you.
You look around, there are some smiling faces, but they’re probably faking it, right? Even though there are only a few mean muggers in the crowd, their faces imprint themselves into your brain. The heartless, hollow eyes of the old woman in the second row. The look of disgust on the face of the old man parallel to where you are standing at the back row.
One kid whispers to his friend beside him and they both begin giggling. You know it has to be about you. A couple of old hens also quietly whisper, one looks to the other with an embarrassed look on her face. They must feel bad for you.
You could hear a pin drop as you walk in and take your seat. The worship Pastor looks down and does his best to ignore you. The piano starts playing and the moment you sit down, everyone else stands! The offering plate goes around and you find yourself scrounging up change to put in it. Everyone notices.
The Pastor finally comes forward, and it soon becomes evident that he’s been checking the Facebook page of your loved ones who vent about you. His sermon is like a topical study of your life. You feel a little convicted by the end of it but you’ve already made up your mind. You hate church people, so you hate Church.
If you had attended a little longer, you may have discovered that the lady in the front row had recently been made a widow. The man in the back was a deacon, he was just having a bad day; he’s actually a really nice guy. Those kids were laughing at a joke their Sunday School teacher had told them. The Worship Pastor wasn’t pretending to ignore you, he was looking up the hymn he had called out to the congregation right before you walked in. Finally, the pastor isn’t even friends with your loved one on Facebook, turns out he had been planning that message for a month. You were just there at the right time to hear it!
Sometimes, in situations that are strange to us, we project our fears onto the faces of others. This is when a grief stricken old lady or two kids laughing becomes the mean old woman and a couple bullies-in- training. It’s all about perspective.
Does this mean there are no mean people in Church? Absolutely not. Sometimes people will look down on you, talk about you, do something you disagree with, even purposely hurt you. But these people represent a small minority within the Church. This does not represent what Christians should act like. When these people hurt us, they are doing the exact opposite of Christ’s example. Remember when Church people hurt you that Jesus saved his harshest words not for the sinners on the streets, but for the Religious Pharisees in the Temple.
We must remember who we were in our past. If you’re anything like us recovering addicts, you would have sat through anything to get what you needed: a doctor’s office, a shady drug deal, or a visit to a bootlegger with a gun in his hand. We would do whatever it took to get our fix, hurting others, leaving kids, stealing, or worse.
What will you do to get your Jesus fix? Would you sit through a service while people stared at you? Would you volunteer for a ministry you know little about? Many zealous Christians claim they’d be willing to die for Him… Would you be willing to live for Him?
So maybe you have been hurt by someone in the church in the past; Should that stop you from following Jesus? Before answering, consider this: who were you following? That person? Or Jesus? If you’re following Jesus no power in Hell should come against you. Especially not that of those claiming to follow Him too. Don’t let a bad taste in your mouth keep you from the Living Water.