Let’s be honest: we’re just people.
Not that that’s a bad thing. Or an excuse. People are extraordinary and capable of great things, even amazing things. We’re capable of great creativity, love, compassion, grace – all the good things that remind us that we are created “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27).
We’re also very capable of other things, the less desirable things, the things that are the opposite of those things we think of as “good.” We can destroy and hurt and hate. We can be selfish, mean and abusive.
But what we also have is the ability to learn and the power – a superpower, really, in the context of the rest of creation – to choose which path we will take.
So. Let’s keep on being honest here: going to church does not make you perfect, holy, righteous, honourable, virtuous, innocent, godlike or better than anyone else. It just doesn’t. And I don’t just mean going in the building, whether you’re able to do that right now or not, I mean participating in the life of a faith community.
Now hang on a minute. In case you think I’m suggesting that church isn’t a good thing, I’m not. Church is great. Church is awesome and amazing. Or it can be. It’s just that it takes more than the presence of God, it needs the presence of you. All of you, sincerely willing to be part of something and let it be a part of you.
Nothing can make you any closer to God, more holy, more righteous or honourable or virtuous than the choices you make and what you do with your life. And that still doesn’t make you better than anyone else, it makes you a better you. The only perfect you can be is what you already are: perfectly you. Finding that in ourselves and seeing it in others is what communities are all about.
Communities of faith – any religion or faith tradition – ought to be about that. Jesus was certainly about that.
I hope this is understood by people who go to church and by people who don’t. People who go to church need to remember that just walking through the door isn’t everything. Especially right now, when we’re missing our place to gather as well as those we gather with. It can be an important piece of our life – it certainly is mine – but it’s because that place is where we learn and share with others as part of a faith community and, most importantly, how we grow into living out the love of Jesus in our daily lives. People who don’t go to church need to remember that the church is people, just like you and me, and – histories not withstanding – we’re just trying to be better people and this way has meaning for us. And it might for you, too. Please don’t assume you know “church” until you try – and please do try! As far as I know, every church welcomes anyone.
Wait. They do, don’t they? Shouldn’t they?