The title of this blog alone is probably enough to send most God-fearing good Christians running for the hills. I can hear it now. Yet another church bashing rant. Please. Save it. We hear it all the time and you’re wrong. Simply wrong.
Okay, fair enough. Maybe I am. But I’m not out to bash the church, mine or anybody else’s. I’m simply sitting here trying to figure this thing out. Because I’m a little confused. Or maybe a lot confused.
Since I’ve been published, I’ve become more aware of what people who read Christian fiction want and what some expect. I’m seeing two camps – (just my opinion, not gospel, take it or leave it).
One camp is firmly entrenched in tradition,righteousness and faith and they want good wholesome stories where nobody really does anything wrong. They certainly don’t drink or smoke or dance or cuss out the jerk who just swung in and stole the only parking space in the lot right out from under them. They want to read stories that emplify the modest, wholesome life they themselves lead. The want the feel-good, everybody wins and nobody gets hurt kind of deal. When something goes wrong, terribly, horribly wrong, they brush it under the carpet and refuse to acknowledge it. Out of sight out of mind.
The other camp have their music (praise or other) turned up a little too loud. They may not dress as modestly. They have piercings and tatoos and funny colored hair. They enjoy a glass of wine (or several) or a cocktail with friends, and they watch and read and say crap that might make your hair curl. They debate furiously about the Bible, Christianity in general and a bunch of other stuff. They still believe the world can change and they’re hellbent on doing it. They are radical believers firmly entrenched in an unshakeable faith. And they want something different. Please, God, give us something different!
Can you really have such vastly different believers truly on the same path? Do they both ‘really’ believe the same thing? Or has one gone horribly astray, with one foot in the world and the other wavering, dangerously close to being sucked into sin with little hope of restoration?
I don’t have answers to these questions. But I’ve asked them myself, a lot. They are questions I don’t think any mortal man can or has the right to answer. For who but God can judge the heart?
Okay, to be fair, I see gray areas. I’ve seen and heard things from fellow Christians that don’t line up with what I believe about God or the Bible. And I’m sure what I believe doesn’t sit right with them. Can we both be right?
If we have such wildly different cultures within the church, how does the new believer who doesn’t quite feel washed white as snow find their place? How does the old come alongside the new and join hands? How does the author who desperately wants to share the message of forgiveness and redemption and restoration find her voice when the majority of the audience she seems to be reaching shies away from sin, kicking and screaming like a kid with a ten page algebra assignment?
I have to be honest. (What?) Some of the reactions to my not-so-clean-cut characters actions have surprised me. And ticked me off. And saddened me. I’m sorry that some people are so busy trying to be perfect that they have no room for imperfection. I’m sorry that I was one of them once upon a time. I’m sorry that sometimes the church gives the wrong message to the lost. Sometimes I’m sorry we call them lost. But I guess you can’t be found without being lost. And you have to seek to find.
So if you’re not seeking, you’re…sinning?