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Let's Be Real!
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Having grown up going to church, and grateful for it, I have found “the church” to be quite a sociological study. For me, it's a safe place on familiar territory. A setting of spiritual hominess, if you will, while still being hallowed ground.

For others, however, the church comes across as an exclusive club and anything but homey. How can people who are sitting in the same church, worshiping the same God, attending the same services, and mingling with the same people have such different views? Well, let me throw out a few ideas.

First, the church is a unique society. It contains it's own culture, in a way, with even its own language. In fact, whether speaking Spanish, English, French, or German, there are phrases and terms that are specific to this society. Like “born again,” “spirit of prophecy,”  “the Trinity,” “the end time,” and “second death,” just to name a few. These phrases have great meaning to the Christian and are worthy of understanding. But there are people who have not a clue what those phrases mean. I have tried to become more mindful of that possibility and either explain the terms when mentioned or use them in a context that can be understood. Let's be real!

Catch More Blame

Second, the church seems to catch more blame for its imperfections than other sub-cultures like family and work. For example, who doesn't have some family members or co-workers who get on their nerves from time to time? But in order to maintain a healthy environment, we are likely to give the benefit of the doubt or just plain accept those imperfections. After all, Uncle Eli has always been a little intolerant of change. That's just the way he is. But when it comes to the church, there are people who will leave and never return because there was an Uncle Eli in the congregation who didn't totally embrace the praise music the first time it fell on his ears.

A committee leader at work may have a tendency to take on more work than she can effectively carry out and co-workers may step in and gently suggest that she delegate more. But in the church, this same person might be accused of trying to “run the church.”

Perhaps because God is perfect, people expect the same from those who gather to worship him. This is dangerous in every way. It sets people up to either judge others for not measuring up or to not be real themselves because they fear that they will be judged as imperfect in the presence of those who apparently are. Let's just be real!

While it is true that the church is the object of God's regard, it should also be the safest place in the world to be oneself. God meets everyone where they are and lovingly brings them up. Shouldn't his children do the same for each other?

Jesus said, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you" (John 15:12).

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By Gwen Scott Simmons. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.


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