Throughout my entire life I've always gone to church, I've always gone to Sunday school, and I've always told people that I was a Christian. I remember as a little kid going to church and trying to imagine what Jesus must have been like. I'd always picture the typical Jesus seen in the Illustrated Children's Bible. A guy in a long robe with a belt, long brown hair with a beard, mandals (man-sandals). That was the Jesus I grew up about hearing. I didn't hear about the Jesus that overthrew the tables in the Temple. I didn't hear about the Jesus that cast out demons from Hell. I didn't hear about His suffering. I didn't hear about the Jesus that cried because of the anguish and torment He was about to undergo. I just heard about the Jesus that walked around this land called Israel and a lot of other places I had trouble pronouncing.
Now I understand a child doesn't really have the capability of understanding the true passion of Christ during the crucifixion, but I feel that as the church, we are making some serious mistakes in how we view Jesus. For years we have been ingrained with the smiling, kind, "hippy" Jesus of the Illustrated Children's Bible.
It's true that Jesus "saw the crowds" and "He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36) because He did love them and wanted the best for them. But in any instance you see Christ talking with the Pharisees or the religious teachers you can see Jesus just rocking them with wisdom. You see exclamation marks in the Bible. Jesus told them to their faces without fear, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness" (Matthew 23:27).
Christ yelled at them. He called them ugly from the inside out and no matter how "religious" or "spiritual" they were, their very core and being was hideously disgusting, like dead bodies decaying in beautiful tombs.
Many non-believers picture the average church-goer as some stuck-up, well-dressed, hypocritical, clean-cut, 2.5 kids and a dog, SUV-driving, judgmental, bigot. I will admit that there are many that match up with every description I've listed, but by no means is it the majority.
People that don't read the Bible consistently or look deep enough into the true person of Jesus Christ will think church is about wearing "your Sunday best" while sipping coffee and vehemently arguing with another member about why the church should keep the pews and not switch to chairs.
We are giving a false-image of the church to those outside the faith and we are making the body of Christ into a country club, monogrammed towel and all. A country club that doesn't accept members if they don't have a certain wardrobe, paycheck, or vehicle.
I'm not saying looking nice for God on Sunday morning is bad by any means but when we begin to exclude those that don't line up with our own earthly standards or dress code, we are not being like Christ.
Do you understand the kind of crew Jesus rolled with? Twelve guys that were really nothing to brag about. They had thick, scraggly beards, smelled like fish, and most of them were not educated. Doesn't sound like the typical church-goer of our today does it? But they had faith. They dropped everything and followed Jesus when He called them. They left their families. They left their jobs. They left their lives behind them to follow the Anointed One.
Non-believers and many Christians don't understand that Christ didn't come for the good people. He came for those that were sick of themselves. He came for those that were tired of their sin. He came for those that were so scarred and broken by their sin that they had lost all hope. He came for the sinner, you and me. He didn't come for those that were already righteous. This is seen in
"And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.16 And the scribes of[a] the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat[b] with tax collectors and sinners?”17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Those that call themselves "holy" and seek to make their church as "perfect" as possible by excluding those that don't stack up according to this world have missed the entire goal of God coming to earth in the form of man. Christ came to this world to heal those that were broken. He came to show the broken that He loved them no matter how disgusting, unworthy, or sinful they were. He came to teach the broken that if they put their faith in His teaching and turned from their sin, they would spend eternity in paradise with Him.
I see my own sinfulness and am disgusted by how broken I am. I know my heart and understand
"What then? Are we Jews any better off?No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,as it is written: None is righteous, no, not one;no one understands;no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;no one does good,not even one. Their throat is an open grave;they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood;in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
We will never seek God. We are all in sin, and will always be in sin until our final breath on this world. Stop trying to be righteous, only Christ within you will make you righteous. If you fall into sin, don't wallow in it, repent and turn from it again. If you haven't made the decision to follow Christ, one day you will know the truth. Drop your pride and feel the Spirit move.