I had a conversation with a young mother the other day who was dismayed at the way she’d been treated in church by other Christians. She told me the deepest hurts she’d ever encountered in life have come through religious people she thought should know better.
The more I considered this, the more I think the leaders in God’s Church have done their people a great disservice. As an Evangelical Protestant/Pentecostal, for years I’ve heard that the only thing a person needs to do to be saved is to “confess Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.” I’ve seen people practically coerced into repeating those words, or some semblance of them, only to hear the announcement they’re now saved, cleansed, set free from their sins and ready to live their life for the Lord. Then follows the invitation that almost ruins this new, if questionable convert: “Come and go to church with me.”
Unfortunately, many times in our efforts to get someone to say the magic Salvation Formula, we don’t bother to explain what a Lord is and we forget that none of us knows everything God’s saved us from. We convince people that simply repeating a sentence after us will grant them eternal life and everything on earth is now going to be a big, warm fuzzy feeling of joy and happiness since Jesus paid for your sins and made you a part of the family of God.
However, once we’ve got them in the church door, we’ve conveniently forgotten to tell these new converts about self-righteous Sister Sally and judgmental Brother Bob, the self-appointed spiritual police who make war with anyone who disagrees with them, dresses differently, has divergent opinions on the proper music to use in church or reads an unauthorized Bible. We don’t warn them that some of the tongues they’ll hear will be lashings that won’t need an interpretation. We forget to tell them that not everyone in church believes that God so loved the world that He died for their sins. Instead, they believe we are all sinners in the hands of an angry God and it’s their duty to convey God’s anger.
In your face.
In the front foyer.
Before the first service.