I was unpacking my bag on the bench when I caught two guys walk into the locker room out of the corner of my eye. There are three identical, contiguous locker bays at my gym–the other two were completely empty–yet this duo chose to pile their bags up next to mine and squeeze (just closely enough to make it awkward) into the same locker space I was occupying.
Alright. Relax. No big deal.
But when a fourth guy walked in, assessed the situation, completely ignored the other two empty locker bays, and proceeded to lean impatiently against the wall until I was finished, I had a sudden, involuntary flashback.
This is the same guy that used to attend my church when I was a kid! He and his wife would insist on the same seat each Sunday and go all wrath of God if your cheeks dared imprint on “their” cushion.
Wait a second. Maybe this isn’t a religious, “church-people” issue after all. Could it possibly just be a human issue?
I know you get a lot more attention when you rip on your own. Democrats who bash Obama. Republicans who light up Newt Gingrich. Pastors who criticize the church. That moves the needle. Makes people look. I’ve been known to do it myself (and sometimes it’s absolutely necessary).
But today I want to do something that may be a bit unpopular…
…come to the defense of church people.
(I know, I know….where’s he gonna go next? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Lindsay Lohan?)
Look, I admit, we’re quirky, hypocritical, naive, simplistic, condescending, annoying, unforgiving, myopic, rote, and graceless (at far too many times). And I’m guessing what probably irritates you the most is when we act like we’re better than you. Like we’ve got it all figured out. Like we’ve solved all the mysteries and our bathrooms don’t need air freshener. Nobody likes to feel “less than” (I’ll put myself at the top of that list).
You hate when we “church folk” seem to forget that we’re broken, fallen human beings.
So please, please, please do me a favor: don’t you forget it either.
We’re sheep following the Good Shepherd. Sometimes we wander. Sometimes we take our eyes off the Master. Sometimes we break a leg or fall in a ditch. Sometimes we make Jesus look real bad. We’re the sheep (not the brightest of animals), not the Shepherd.
That’s the beauty of the Gospel. Because of Jesus, God always welcomes us back.
“The church is not a social club of fake perfection, it’s a place where broken people fall in love with a perfect God.”
We “church people” will do our best not to forget that, but do us a huge favor and please remember it, too.
What’s your “church pew?”