Holding On to My Faith
All reproach ain’t wrong, y’all.
Over the past few months I’ve read a few Op-Eds about millennials leaving churches but continuing to believe, or about what millennials need out of Christianity, or why we don’t participate in service like folk think we should. I’ve read it, rolled my eyes, and felt stuck between a rock and a hard place.
If you’ve read my other blog posts you know that I grew up in church and still, to this day, believe and attend church regularly, sometimes more than twice a week. You may have also gotten the hint (because I haven’t really stated it for real online) that I’m a minister in training. You also know that mental health is a soft spot for me. Being Christian is, too.
Lately, though, I’ve encountered some people and opinions that are a little hard for me to contend with. More than ever, millennials are talking about their faith (awesome) but removing themselves from established religion (hmmm…) or becoming offended when someone in the church holds them accountable for something.
This confuses me for a few reasons.
The whole millennials do too much argument is pretty played out at this point. I admit, it seems that we always have something to say, but it feels that way to me because its so easy nowadays to access the opinions of others. Social media has made it impossible for anything to be a secret, and we milk that bad boy.
At the same time, though, when we do express ourselves, we have to remember that folk have every right to agree or disagree, especially when we put it out there for the world to see. This does not mean that we can’t have an opinion, it simply means that we have to be open to the idea of others having them, too.
Okay, back to what I was originally talking about.
I love God, like, with all of me. I also love my church because it is in that place and the company of other believers that I stopped being afraid to accept my calling and learned that it is okay to be openly Christian. It is also in that place, though, that I have been reproached, by both my leaders and other people in the church.
That’s what the church is there for.
Wait a minute, let me explain.
The church stands for many reasons, the first being that we are supposed to gather to worship God and be edified (Ephesians 4: 11–13). The second is to witness to others OUTSIDE of the church (Matthew 28:18–20). The third is to hold each other accountable for our actions.
Galatians 6:1–5 says this: Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.
So, here is my feeling toward the whole thing: we have to remember that people, especially those whom we fellowship with regularly, have every right to talk to us about our wrongdoings. Yes, the Bible does say in a “spirit of gentleness” which I do think is sometimes forgotten, but we also have to remember that just because someone says something to us that we don’t like does not give us cause to admonish or leave the church.
We cannot expect to worship without fault. We cannot expect to be sharpened as iron if we don’t want to get cut. We cannot become better Christians or people only by singing along with the choir, it takes some reflection, and God will send people to us to help us reflect.
Everything that somebody says to us in the church is not meant to be harmful. Think about it, at work, there is a dress code. When your boss says you can’t wear that, do you leave the job and rant about it on Facebook, or do you not wear that again and show up the next day, attitude or not?
If you cannot take the reproach of those you worship with, I posture that there is something bigger that is the real issue. I urge you to ask yourself why can’t you accept the accountability check? Is it the other person, the church you’re attending, you? Is it that you are not open to growth? Is it that you already don’t want to be there and you’ve found your way out?
We have to remember that it is all a part of the process. Now, if the reproach is not in love, that is for God to deal with. But I am choosing to be humble, listen to what I am told via pulpit or mother’s row, and adjust myself accordingly. Yeah, it may irritate me a little bit, but my walk with God is far too important to let one person and their opinion stop me from being able to stand before God. I am choosing to hold on to the faith that I have grown into, and appreciate those around me whom I trust to tell me that I have something I need to work on, because deep down inside I already knew that anyway.