I have had people leave my church because, and I quote, “Everyone in your church is so good. They are all better than me, and I feel like I don’t fit in.”
I have also had people leave my church because, and I quote, “There are a lot of bad people in your church. If the Holy Spirit were truly at work here, the people would be better.”
So, which is it?
It’s both, no doubt. And each statement reveals more about the one making the judgment than those they judge.
Your opinion of people in a church depends on two things:
- Your awareness of your sin
- Your awareness of other people’s sin
If you are blissfully unaware of your own sin, yet all-consumingly aware of other people’s sin, you will no doubt find the church filled with horrible, hypocritical, not worth being around, “Christians” with the quote marks.
If you are guilt-riddenly aware of your own sin, so bogged down in it, you won’t see other people’s sin, because you won’t see other people at all, you will only see you. You will then feel worthless, like everyone else is better. You won’t feel like you fit in because your own self-absorption keeps you from fitting in.
The best thing is to have a healthy view of your own sin and a healthy view of other people’s sin. This looks like this:
A healthy awareness of your own sin means you check yourself. You confess your sin to God, agreeing with Him about what it is, why it’s wrong, and are determined to fight it with the grace, mercy, and power that is offered to you through the Gospel.
A healthy awareness of other people’s sin means you are not judgmental nor naive. You know people sin. You know everyone battles the flesh, the world, and the Devil just like you do, and sometimes fail. You know that believers are accepted in Christ and have received forgiveness, therefore, you are moved to be merciful and forgiving of others as well.
If everyone in a church had a healthy view of sin; grace, mercy, forgiveness, patience, and unity would reign supreme. It is only when sin gets blown out of proportion that a church will struggle to stay together.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. This request of the Lord’s Prayer shows a healthy view of our sin as individuals and corporately. We know our sin, and we are willing to forgive others of their sin.
It’s a beautiful thing, and the only way a group of people will make any advance in the things of Christ.
We’re all in this together.