A reason to love organized religion.
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Some people dislike organized religion and view it as one of the great sources of evil in the world. It’s true that historically, and even recently, horrible people have used Christianity as a guise to justify even the most heinous of atrocities.
I can see how looking at organized Christianity from only this perspective could leave a person cynical and uninterested. For certain it can be hard to see Jesus amid the organization sometimes, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t there or that he doesn’t want us to gather together. But no doubt, organized religion has its flaws.
However, it’s also true that you could walk into the church building of any denomination of Christianity this Sunday and find a congregation of imperfect people who, to a greater or lesser degree and despite their obvious flaws, desire to love, follow and be more like Jesus.
Amid the pews of any church you’ll find a total mixed bag of individuals. The happy and the depressed, the humble and the proud, the patient and the impatient, the gentle and the rough, the pleasant and the annoying, the rich and the poor.
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But there is nothing particularly unique to Christianity about this. We could visit with any organization and find similar personalities, problems, and preferences among the volunteers, employees or members of that organization.
A great many avoid, or have ceased attending church because they say the people are judgmental, hypocritical, insensitive or unwelcoming.
But I have come to see that these are precisely the reasons I should be attending church every week.
Judgmental, hypocritical, insensitive and unwelcoming people provide me the perfect opportunity to practice becoming a little more like Jesus; patient, long-suffering, gentle, kind, merciful, generous, meek.
I cannot become like Jesus in a vacuum, isolated from problems and people.
A pebble is made smooth by colliding with, and tumbling over other rough rocks in the sea for an extended period of time. Church provides a similar setting for me to collide with, and tumble over people with different histories, ideologies and character flaws.
I could spend a lifetime pointing out and picking apart the flaws and differences of everyone attending church with me, and they could equally do the same for me.
But rather than doing this, I am starting to view the quirks and imperfections of my fellow Christians as opportunities to develop Christlike love and character, not as an excuse or to justify walking away from Jesus and organized religion.