By Interim Pastor Rick Biedermann American Lutheran Church, La Porte City
The Christian Church has taken quite a bit of criticism lately. Some of it is fair. There are more and more people who say they are spiritual but not religious There was a YouTube clip that was popular a while ago. It is a young man’s poem criticizing the Christian religion. He makes some good points. Too often religion has been misused to keep people from loving Jesus. Too often religion is seen as a club: either like a country club where people go just because it looks good or to socialize. Or the kind of club that is a big stick. Where the church beats people over the head threatening them with hell. Too often religion becomes a way for people to judge others. That was why Jesus was critical of the Pharisees and religious leaders of his time. If you have felt judged or unwelcome in church than the church needs to repent.
I know many people who do not go to church because they say it is full of hypocrites. As a pastor I will be the first to say that the church is far from perfect. But that is because it is made up of imperfect people. The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 7:15 “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” The church really is a hospital for the sick. If you are looking for the perfect church and decide to join it – well, it won’t be perfect anymore. All of us are hypocrites because no one lives the way God wants us to live.
In a world full of bad news we need a place to hear the good news of what God has done for us in his Son, Jesus. And because of Jesus, God does not hold our sins against us. We need to hear that we are still loved unconditionally by God even though we don’t deserve it.
We always need to be asking, “Does religion bring us closer to God or keep God at a distance?” If religion keeps us from the love of Jesus and from helping us to love Jesus and others than I too would criticize it. If you do not attend a church, I invite you to find one realizing that it won’t be perfect. Find a church where you can be reminded of God’s love and forgiveness.