Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Faith

Can You Love Jesus and Hate Church?

Some say that if you’re a Christian who claims to truly love Jesus Christ, you can’t possibly hate church since the church is Christ’s bride.

A meme spotted on Facebook recently challenged how much people can possibly love Jesus based on whether they hate church.

You can’t do both at the same time, it suggested.

It’s a common idea across multiple denominations and even shared by many traditionalists and progressives in the Christian community. Those who feel this way will often cite Ephesians 5:22-33. In this verse, the apostle  Paul compares the marriage of a man and a woman — the husband and wife — to the relationship of Christ and the church. It doesn’t specifically call the church Christ’s “bride,” but it clearly

The passage is controversial more because it tells wives that they must “submit” to their husbands, a somewhat less popular notion these days.

But for some who feel they have been hurt by the church, that passage may be a difficult pill to swallow more because of the metaphor of the church as “bride.”

There are people who’ve been hurt by the church. They’ve been neglected. They’ve been mistreated. They’ve been isolated.

However it has happened, they may well feel that they were not shown the love a child of God should have been shown. Those slights may not have been intentional, but that doesn’t change how real those slights feel.

Some, in an attempt to defend the church, are quick to point out an obvious fact: churches are filled with imperfect people.

That’s true. There’s no denying that.

It should be just as impossible, however, to deny that some of those imperfect people act as though they are the only perfect people in existence.

It becomes easy over time to become cynical about church. It becomes easy to just give up on it. It becomes far too easy to skip church altogether.

But that doesn’t mean people who don’t attend church — or those who merely feel they need a “break” from it — don’t love Christ. 

Maybe they come to realize the church they thought was wonderful is actually toxic. Maybe they begin to understand that some aspect of their church experience is actually damaging their faith.

It could just be that they love Christ so much that they fear the church might be damaging their relationship with Him.

And nothing is worth that. Even if it means you go without a church home for a while just to heal.

Even that doesn’t mean they truly “hate” church. It might appear that way to those who religiously — pardon the expression — attend. But perception isn’t necessarily true.

The meme itself comes off more than anything as a commercial for church.

Rather than fostering any real discussion, it comes off as dismissive of people who may feel a genuine need to take a step back.

That’s unfair. And it might just amplify the very disappointment, frustration or pain some have felt from the church.

I hope those who haven’t found the right church aren’t discouraged by memes like this.

If anything, I hope it helps them remember to embrace Christ even more tightly.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.