To anyone who has been hurt by the church…
To anyone who has been unfairly judged, discriminated against, left out, laughed at or mistreated…
To anyone who has learned from a pastor who lied, deceived, who overemphasized the rules, or who cared more about money than the congregation…
To anyone whose trust and innocence have been violated by a wayward priest…
To anyone who was let down in their greatest time of need…
On behalf of the sincere Christians in the world, I am sorry.
I wish I could say “Oh, that was just a fluke! What happened to you isn’t normal. Things like that NEVER happen in the church!”
But unfortunately, I can’t. Not truthfully anyway.
The truth is, the church is full of screw-ups. The church hurts people all the time. From the crusades to the latest pastoral scandal in the news, you don’t have to look very far to find Christians messing things up.
I wish I could say “Christians are better than that. We don’t behave that way.” But we do.
We should be better than that, but we’re not.
At least, not all of the time.
You see, here’s the thing about Christians. We aren’t perfect. And anyone who is pretending to be either doesn’t mean for it to come across that way or they’re lying. We’re human. We mess up. We make mistakes. Way more often than we’d like to admit.
We all wish that once we became Christians we could receive a card that says “Congratulations! You are now perfect! Go and enjoy your easy life!” But it doesn’t work like that. Man, I wish it did. But then, we wouldn’t need Jesus, I suppose.
So instead, we struggle. We fight. We fail. We fall down. Just about as much as the next person, I imagine.
So, why even become a Christian at all if we’re just going to keep messing up?
Well, the point of being a Christian isn’t to be perfect. It isn’t to become extra special or better than anyone else. It’s to worship God. It’s to believe what is true. Knowing what I know about God and who He is, I don’t see how I could be anything else. I may not be perfect, but the God I serve is.
And the good news is–there are some really terrific Christians out there. Christians who truly do strive every day to do the right thing and to make the world a better place. And they really do. They give generously to good causes, help their neighbors, serve their churches and treat everyone around them with love and respect.
Focus on them.
Or better yet–focus on Jesus.
Because the truth is… no one is perfect. Try as all of us might, we are never going to live up to the high standard we’ve been called to, even if some of us make it close sometimes.
Not me. Not you. Not the Christians you work with or the ones whose opinions you read online.
But Jesus loves us all anyway.
And if you ever decide to become a Christian too, we’ll be happy for you! We’ll celebrate your successes and mourn your defeats. We won’t expect you to be perfect. Even if sometimes it comes across that way.
And if you don’t want anything to do with Christianity, well, we’ll still love you anyway. Even when we don’t agree.
So, for whatever the church did for you, I’m sorry. It’s inexcusable. I don’t want to brush it off like it’s nothing, because it’s not. What happens matters. Your story matters. You matter.
Could you forgive us? Maybe even give us a second chance to make it right?
I can’t promise you will never get hurt again.
But I can promise you that we’re not all as bad as you may think. And maybe, just maybe, there might even be a little church that’s the perfect fit for you. A place that feels like home. Your family. Where you belong.
So what do you say?
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