Church, the holiest place I know, seems to be contaminated by every disease, every problem, and filthy minds and bodies. It contradicts the perceived belief of what church should be—a place of majesty, splendor, heaven on Earth, beauty, and perfection. But anyone can tell you that the establishment has become sacrilegious.
As a young child growing up, I used to look at the cathedral window quilts and feel that God was going to come through like a knight in shining armor coming to save His people. I used to imagine invisible angels flying around our heads, keeping a tally of those that listened to the preacher and those that were distracted by petty things. The angels would write down the names of all the good people and the bad and reserve it until the day of judgment. For many years I thought about church this way, until I grew up and realized that the people are pretentious and the church services seem to be so programmed. When we have discussions, everyone knows what to say. There are no disagreements, because we all think the same.
I began to view the people at church as narrow-minded, and I refused to join the crowd. I wanted my own identity and to use my ability to think freely and independently. I decided to quit going just so I could sift my own thoughts and differentiate them from “church thoughts.” I assumed it was going to be an easy process but it took me five years to finally understand my own beliefs, to develop my own relationship with Jesus Christ, to be able to question a problem and unravel the answer using my own intellect. Yes, I know that at times it’s important to line up our thoughts with that of the church. The difference is that I can see my thought process and I don’t have to solely rely on the church’s opinions or the pastor’s. I became a better person—a free thinking individual.
I know and understand what the Bible says, and I agree most often. Now, I also know and understand myself and feel confident that God will always lead me and direct me. I don’t intend to be a pretentious person in church or out of church. I don’t try to dress to impress, I don’t sing the church’s opinions when I talk to people, but I row my own in hopes that people will see me as a real person, an individual with problems. Someone who doesn’t understand but is willing to dig to find the answers and to reveal the mess that I found. This is the person that I take to church on Sundays. And I hope that when the angels fly over they will make an observation about all the dirt they found on me because I went the distance to find God.
Now when I look at my own life, I don’t see perfection and beauty at church anymore. I see filth, rogues, hypocrites, bondages, failures, and insanity. A place of sacrilege, almost. But I also see hope, love, and in the midst of all the ugliness I see Christ. And I accept that they are my spiritual family who are not perfect but they are there for me. Whenever I’m greeted by a fellow Christian, I often feel loved. I feel a sense of belonging—and in this world, I realized that’s all I need. I am rich because I have many places to call home but the best place is church.
I walk in with a dampened spirit and I walk out with wholeness, with faith to move mountains, with forgiveness in my heart, and with peace in my soul. I am a better person because I went to church. I see life differently because I went to church. Every Sunday, I leave my problems at the altar so that I can live another hour, another day, another week. I have heard so many arguments against the insignificance of church but I find peace because I know why I go. I know that I go to unbear my burdens so that I can find strength to live. I finally realized that I cannot live alone and cannot go through life alone, but I need people there to help me. At times, it is the spirit that needs to be fortified; and I can only do this at church or around like-minded people.
As a young adult, I perceive church as an establishment that is not perfect but is a hospital that heals spiritual ailments. I don’t really see angels anymore and I don’t envision Christ flying in while I’m there; but I feel that whenever the congregation gathers in the church that Christ is there nonetheless. He is in our hearts, in our minds, and His presence is omnipresent. Every time we gather, our minds are changed, our sins are forgiveness and we are made whole again. So, yes church is filled with disease and filthy minds, pain, fears, evil but when we all lay it on the altar we become new again. We can walk again in the beauty of Christ. This is the reason He died, isn’t it?