I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ. - Ghandi
I think my biggest beef with my own religion can be summed up by that quote above. When reading about Jesus' life and His teachings I have to come very face to face with the giant gap that exists between my God and my Church. I love what Christ taught. I very often hate what Christians teach.
Josh and I struggle with this all the time. We've talked ourselves in circles about it. We know that the Bible instructs us to be members of the church. We know all the spiritual benifits of doing so and we understand the full importance of it. We really really want our boys to grow up with our faith very much a daily part of our lives. But sometimes? Sometimes we are very ashamed of the behavior of the christians around us. And every once in a while we are almost as afraid of raising our kids in the church as out of it. We want to shelter our kids from the hypocrisy. We dont want them to be as jaded as we have grown. We are also afraid that our own lessons of love and forgiveness, Jesus's lessons, will get overridden by the lessons of homophobia and hatred and racism, of political close-mindedness, and irrational fear that the church so often spews.
Anyways, I am already off subject of the subject I was supposed to be starting.
Which is that Josh and I are looking for a new church. Not because of the above. But because the church we've been attending the last 5 or so years is almost a half hour away from our new house, and between that and the times of their service's (8 when Zeke is just waking up and 11 when its getting near nap) we have been having a very hard time attending. We make it probably 1 and sometimes 2 times a month and that is just not ok.
The search and prayer over finding a new church has brought up (again) all our thoughts on the above, though. We would like to find a church that actually represents our beliefs. It is much much harder than we ever thought it would be.
The church I went to as a teen, after I converted, was Free Methodist. I loved it but it was...how do I say it?...well Josh and I call it a "baby" church. The kind with a huge rock-concert worship service. They converted a LOT of people. A LOT. It grew faster than they could build additions. I dont think anyone there had been Christian over 3 years. Which was/is wonderful in its own way. But, and perhaps because of that, they never taught anything but the very basics. It was the New Testament, mostly the gospels, and every once in a while a Psalm. No bits about sin or hell allowed people, its called the Good News.
Josh's childhood church was perhaps the opposite. Instead of a "baby" church, it was an "elderly" church. Old fashioned and without any real interest in becoming anything else, he never felt it really related to todays world or perhaps ever would, especially after his youth minister left. A perfect example: They dont allow instruments in worship service...for reasons no one has ever been able to explain to me. Change comes very slow there, and usually never at all.
The church we joined upon moving to Spokane slanted more towards what he was used to then what I was used to. Josh's needs were greater than mine at the time, ect ect. We wont get into that decision process...it has nothing to do with this. A lovely small church. But even after 5 years we have never really felt that we belong. We're accepted. We're loved. But we dont feel comfortable really showing who we are. Perfect examples: When I took a "leadership" type position in our MOPS (moms of preschoolers) I got a visit at home to ask me to please not bring up things like the fact that I do yoga (I was pregnant at the time and credited prenatal yoga for my lack of back pain thru both pregnancies) because it could lead others "astray". Or there's the fact that during elections Josh and I had to stop attending a bible study because the talk always ALWAYS veered into the political. And by veerying into the political I mean glowing talk about Sarah Palin (who Josh and I dispise to the point of disrespect) and how democrates are the scourge of the earth (oops, dems here!...although if Josh reads this he will be mad I said so...Josh is a consitutionalist for the record).
All 3 churches lovely lovely churches. Seriously. Full of wonderful and godly people. But as we have had children things stop sliding off our back so easily. We think "Do we want Zekey and Mal to hear this?" Its the reason that while listening to the Christian station I turn it really quick whenever Focus on the Family has a spot. Uhg, dont get me started on Focus on the Family. Built increasingly every year on hatred and ignorance...
I am getting bitter. I just had to erase like 3 sentences up there.
Anyways, Josh and I find ourselves this Lenten season looking into our hearts. What do we believe? Which of those beliefs do we value the most? What do we want out of a church? What do we want to surround our kids in? Strong biblical values, of course. The love and forgivness taught by our Christ. Tradition, relatability. A place where we can say Obama without getting stoned would be nice, you can be a democrat AND a christian, people. Maybe a place where Islam doesnt mean devil worship... Its a heady list, I could go on and on.
And so we pray.