Go anywhere around the area from Southeast DC to Capitol Heights to Bowie and ask certain people why they stop attending church, the most common answer is “I can’t stand ‘church people’. They are so judgmental and hypocritical.” It truly is sad that the church, the one place where people should be accepted without constant criticism, is driving people away with hurtful glances and gossip. The contemporary Christian group Casting Crowns wrote a song called “If We Are The Body” that describes how today’s church, as a whole, is failing to be the body of Christ that it was meant to be.
There is a difference between making a mistake and being an outright hypocrite. Most Christians who are deemed to be hypocrites are those who are known for looking down on other people because of their mistakes and then making the same mistakes as those they criticized. Those types of Christians forget the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector mentioned in the Bible in Luke 18:9-14. The parable tells the story of a Pharisee, the religious leaders of the time, and a tax collector, one of the most despised groups of people of the day, who both went to pray at the temple. The Pharisee’s prayer was all about how much better he was than the tax collector, while all the tax collector could say is “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:13, NKJV) Jesus said that the tax collector went home justified, but the Pharisee did not because “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14, NKJV)
The church today has fallen into two different, but equally harmful categories. The church has either been too judgmental or too lenient. Some parts of the church have compromised their beliefs under the name of being politically correct. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 15:18, NIV) On a separate occasion, Jesus spoke to His disciples and said, “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22, NIV) While the church needs to be non-tolerant of sin, it should be tolerant of people. What that means is that people who participate in activities that do not line up with the Word of God should be prayed for, not condemned; loved on, not judged. That what Jesus did for the church. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ dies for us.” (Romans 5:8, NKJV)
If this area, with all its craziness, from senseless beatings and killings to just an increasing amount of self-centeredness, ever needed the church to shine its light, it would be now. If the church is to regain its light, it needs to become more like it is supposed to be- the body of Christ.