I wish I had no reason to write this post, but I know it fits somebody today.
Sometimes, if we’re honest, it’s hard to be thankful for our church. Christians—pastors and laity alike—can be downright mean. They fight over the dumbest stuff, and they protect their church turf like they owned it. Some gossip. Some lie. Some love power and control.
There are hypocrites in the church, too. They can play the game on Sunday and live like the devil the rest of the week. Some use the Bible as a club to beat people with, even when they don’t really know the Bible in the first place. Others seem to pull their theology out of a hat more than the Bible, and they turn to theology only when they’re guarding their position or their power. They’re just not lovable people sometimes, and it’s hard to be thankful for them.
When it’s hard to be thankful for your church, try these suggestions:
- Confess your own sin. If it’s hard for you to be thankful for your church, it’s possible that you’ve already crossed the line into bitterness and anger. Or, it’s possible that the enemy has so discouraged you that you’ve lost your love for the church. Either way, you need to confess.
- Pray specifically for those people who bug you the most (. . . and not with a prayer that starts, “God, get them!”). Something happens when we honestly pray for those who bug us. It’s a lot harder to fight with people when we’re on our knees.
- Look closely for the good things God is doing through your church. I trust there are good, honest, God-fearing and God-following people in your church. Don’t miss them when you’re wrestling with other stuff in the church.
- Remember that volume does not equal power. Often, the troublemakers in a church are few – but they’re loud. Don’t let the voices of a few overtake the quietness of faithfulness in your congregation.
- Don’t forget that you, too, make your church imperfect. You may not be carrying on like others do, but you’re still a sinner, too. Or, in some cases, you might be carrying on, too—but you refuse to admit that reality.
- Seek reconciliation with someone. That might mean asking forgiveness from a brother or sister in Christ, or it might simply mean “clearing the air” with somebody. You’ll be more grateful for your church if you have fewer broken relationships in it.
- Read the book of 1 Corinthians. Paul began his letter by expressing how thankful he was for the church (1 Cor. 1:4-9), and he ended it with a word of love (1 Cor. 16:24). In between these verses, he essentially said to the Corinthian church, “You’re an absolute mess!” Learn to be thankful for, and love, the messes that God calls His church.
- Pray some more. God often breaks our hearts when we’re on our knees. Get there, and stay there until God is finished for now with molding you into the image of His Son. People who have the heart of God’s Son are grateful for His church.
- Go to church this weekend with eyes open to see where God is moving. If all you see is the negative, you probably need to open your eyes more widely. Go with eyes of faith, believing God is still working in your church.
I pray you can be thankful for your church today!