The Separation of Church and Hate: You are a Catalyst for Change

May 11, 2015 by

The Separation of Church and Hate: You are a Catalyst for Change

I grew up in a Baptist church community in upstate New York. It was called “Open Door” and its name is a misnomer. There were, of course, wonderful people there, who believed the same things that I do, who love the Lord and who preach the bible. It’s not their faith that I have come to question, it’s their ability to share the love of Christ. When walking though the doors of this establishment, I didn’t feel loved, I felt judged. I didn’t feel forgiven, I felt condemned.

I grew up in this church environment where it seemed like we were against everything. Abortion, gay people, democrats, even Disney movies were the topics of things we needed to stay away from , things that were sinful, things that were bad. I remember a time when a young man wanted to play his electric guitar along with his sister as she sung Amazing Grace, it was expressly prohibited. As a teenager I felt that everything I did and everything I wore was under intense scrutiny. When I went off to college I stopped attending church because it didn’t fit well into my busy schedule and I wanted to spend time with people and in places in which I felt happy, not in places where I felt judged.

Widening the gap between Church and Hate: What is it about "church people"?I don’t know what it is about church people, but we have a tendency to be a bit off-putting. For some reason, there is a disconnect between living like Christ and living for Christ. As Christians I think it is pretty typical for us to judge one another more harshly, and to especially judge those who are outside of the church. I think our intentions are good, we want to share biblical truths, and teach moral life values… but somehow along the way I think we lose the point. Although the bible does explicitly lay out the ground rules for living a moral Christian life, and faith in God does by definition instruct you to live by God’s justice and commandments, this fails to take into account God’s love, which is equally important.

When my mother was a young woman and a member of the fore mentioned church, she went through a pretty ugly period in her life. When she was faced with divorcing an adulterous husband and raising a child alone while working full-time, her attendance at church waned dramatically. Rather than offer her the support and love she so desperately needed at the time, the church elders called her to let her know that if her attendance didn’t improve, she would be dropped from the membership. My mother has never been a part of a church again, in fact she rarely, if ever, attends.

Now, as an adult, I am making choices about my faith that are modeled far more on my desire that you know you are loved than my concern over whether you are gay, having sex, or dressing immodestly. As young Christians I feel that it is our responsibility to change the stigma that surrounds “church people” as we strive to love more like Christ did.

As young Christians it is our responsibility to change the stigma that surrounds “church people”. Click To Tweet

The church I attend now, as an adult, expresses love daily. Sure, we still know that the consequences of sin is death, but the church elders spend time weekly, generously showering the congregation with messages of acceptance. On Sunday my pastor made this excellent analogy, comparing the church to a hospital. Can you imagine, he asked us, if you went to the hospital when you were sick and needed medical care, then, just as you were settled into your room someone came in asking: “Are you ill? What’s wrong with you?” —“I have pneumonia” you would respond, and if that hospital were like many churches you would be told to “get out!”…. much like those that come to church seeking hope and love, only to be turned away when they aren’t acting Christian enough.

I know there is a fine line between church and hate. I know that it is a politically charged debate and that people get fired up over what they believe to be morally acceptable. I challenge you to be conscious of this in your interactions with others, in your evangelicalism, in your life: knowing that you are the first step to widening that distance between church and hate, you are the catalyst for change, you are called on to live and love like Jesus.

You are the first step to widening that distance between church and hate. Click To Tweet

I challenge you to be the light in a dark world, to be one of those Christians that people look at and wonder what makes you so different? What makes you so kind?

A challenge for Christians to change the stigma of church people.

As Christians it is our responsibility to be a light that people flock to. I challenge you to be so kind people wonder about your sanity, I challenge you to serve others, even those you disagree with, maybe even those you don’t even like…because we aren’t called on to judge others, we aren’t called on to make a point, we are called to be so full of grace that we, step by step, change the world.

7 Comments

  1. I understand where you’re coming from, Molly. I was raised Baptist and though the church I attend now is non-denominational and a bit more diverse and open, there are many views that I feel are still very legalistic. However, I struggle to find the appropriate response to many issues our culture embraces, like homosexuality for example. I definitely want to respond to all people with compassion but I find it hard to know what that looks like in practical ways. I would love it if my church would offer more opportunities for people who are “sick” with a wide-variety of sins, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon. We definitely need to be known more for our love and not for our “hate.” But then, “hating” sin (not the sinner) is part of that call as believers as well. I hope you find some clarity on this in your spiritual journey and share more about that here in time. I’d be interested for sure! Thanks for linking up and commenting back at my blog today!

    • I don’t know what that looks like either, but I hope to find out. It’s something that weighs heavily on my heart, especially as I teach junior high in an urban environment… Those kiddos come from so many different backgrounds and I hope to be an example of love for them.

      I’ll be sure to report back on what I learn along the way.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I couldn’t agree more! We are the Church. We represent Christ. We must bring Him to the secular. 🙂

    • Have you heard the song? I can’t think of who its by right now but its: God put a million-million doors in this world for his love to walk through, one of those doors is you. 😉

  3. The Southern Stylista

    I LOVE the tweet that you attached for us to share, such an important reminder!

    xoxo, SS

    The Southern Stylista

  4. I enjoyed your perspective. People, in general, forget where they come from which impacts the way they show love and compassion. I am sure if folks remembered their struggles and missteps they would be more patient, loving, and gentle.

    • I think that striving to be more patient and loving is step one in increasing happiness and acceptance. 🙂

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