I didn’t write this, but I got it as a response to THIS in an email today. I’m still processing it. What are your thoughts?
Dear guy who doesn’t go to church,
I went to this thing once with some friends. I had to sit in traffic, and yikes, parking was an absolute nightmare. I’ve never seen such a crowd in my life. Once we pushed and pushed through the people and we finally found our seats, it seemed like eternity before the thing got started. After a while, I’m pretty sure I started smelling like everyone else — a mixture of pot, beer, and who knows what else. No doubt someone spilled something on me. I don’t know why some of the people were there — some people looked like they’d rather be in a hotel room and others just looked like they didn’t know where they were. I had to stand on my seat the whole time to watch what was going on, and trust me, after an hour, that got really old. Oh, and don’t even ask about the bathrooms. Nasty. And if that wasn’t enough, it started to rain through this huge hole they had in the roof of the place. Wouldn’t you know we were standing right underneath it? And then, of course, after it was over, we had to go through the crowd again, find our car, and sit through the worst traffic jam I have ever seen. Would you believe that I actually paid to attend this thing?
But, you know, it was the best concert I’ve ever been to in my life.
You see, I didn’t go to watch other people or to see the stadium. I went because it was my absolute favorite band. I love them. Finally seeing them in person, live, made up for all that other stuff.
Going to church is kind of the same thing for me. There are plenty of weirdos there — count me among them. I may not have a tattoo on my arm or have funky hair, but no matter how much I try to hide it, I’m a rebel on the inside. Aren’t we all? Nobody is perfect or does the right thing all the time. Even church people.
But this Jesus guy that everyone keeps talking about, he’s the star. I can’t speak for everyone, but he’s the one that gets me in the door every Sunday. All those things I do there — singing songs, giving money, learning from the Bible — are just a few of the ways that I can try to learn more about him and his heart. I love Jesus more than anyone else I have ever known. How else could I feel about someone who loves me so much that he gave his life for me? How else could I feel about someone who took my punishment from God for being one of those rebels? I decided a long time ago that I should take that offer of forgiveness, but the only thing I could give in return was my life.
If only it was that easy, right? I’m pretty sure that giving up my life for anyone else would mean death. But giving up your life to God means getting more of life. Just like he raised Jesus from the dead after he gave his life. For reasons I really don’t understand, God decided that the best way to communicate about what his son Jesus did for us was to show off his generosity through rebels who give their lives to him. Being a rebel who follows Jesus isn’t easy. It means that I’m constantly reminded of how much of a rebel I am. It means that sometimes other rebels make fun of me and hate me. But following Jesus means that I’m a rebel who knows forgiveness, who knows unconditional love, who knows that there are amazing promises out there!
I’m sorry that I’m a rebel, and that despite my best efforts I still act like one. Everything you’ve accused us of is true. Whoever started those rumors that church should be this perfect place full of perfect people was just a liar. I know that guy, and he’s the worst rebel of them all. You’ve probably met him too. He’s not interested in anyone but himself, and he’s a pretty good liar. Please, I beg you, don’t listen to him. There are those of us rebels who are trying to follow Jesus the best we can… but we’re definitely not perfect. And there are, of course, people who don’t seem to be there for Jesus at all. Shocking, isn’t it. You’ll be disappointed every time if you expect us to be anything but who we are. I know, I’ve been disappointed more times that I can count.
Jesus, though, is perfect. He’s the one you want to get to know. He never ever disappoints. The only difference between me and you? I’ve given my life to Jesus, and God doesn’t see me as a rebel anymore.
Next time you go to church and you see all those imperfect people — please see our mistakes and shortcomings as evidence of the enormous power and grace of God to forgive rebels. If you decide you want that for yourself, it’s as easy as asking for it. Jesus is the star, he loves rebels, and I’m guessing he could use a rebel like you.
A rebel who follows Jesus (aka-one of those church people)