|Posted by Margaret Sleasman on June 17, 2016 at 11:10 AM|
I have been thinking for a long time why I would leave a church that I really liked, where I heard the Gospel and loved the people there. It seems foolish to just up and leave when it is a place that makes you happy. A friend of mine was having trouble with her husband and had been seeking council for several years, she seemed to be ignored and finally decided on a trial separation. Whether she was right or wrong or whether the husband was right or wrong, or whether her pleas were being ignored or not - none of this matters in this note (well, of course to her it did); but the situation woke me up to some things that I did not see because I only attended on Sundays and so was not very close to the people or took part in the other services.
I know that churches are made up of imperfect people who are sinners and trying not to be, I still love them dearly, and I am really trying to be neutral and not judge. I just want to explain why I finally left, not that anyone really cares, but I went back and forth with myself for over a year on whether I was being hard-headed about the whole thing. If I had stayed, I more than likely would have said some very unChristian things and caused a lot of hurt feelings because I was very angry.
Since I became a Christian (in a Pentecostal church, mind you) No there is nothing wrong with being a Pentecostal, but after becoming a Baptist I thought there was - anyway, this Pentecostal church used the King James and so that is the version I learned and loved. After becoming a Baptist, I learned that they believed that is the ONLY true version, and I am finally shying away from that belief. Also since becoming a Baptist, I believed ALL the other churches (even those that called themselves Christian, and believed the Bible), were not true Christians. That is pretty much hogwash. Sorry, but God knows the heart of a person and knows whether they are following Him or not and only HE is qualified to judge.
The little things that I did not notice, was that some of the people in the church (who go every time the doors are open, or who tithe the 10% and give out of their heart all the more like 50 or 70%, and who spend all their free time doing good works and going door to door witnessing and doing all the things we should all do, but don’t), did not socialize very much with some of the ones who only did a few of those things and less if they did none of those things. They were not quite up to their standards. I don’t think it was intentional snubs, but snubs they were, because that was the way they were taught.
Now as far as I can figure, I was not one of the ones who were snubbed, but maybe that is because I am old, or maybe I just didn’t notice the snubbings since I wasn't there for any of the festivities. I know that they always treated me well and I have no complaint there. Anyway, I left in the first place because I was angry, angry at how my friend was treated and made out to be the bad person - at the same time, she was actively seeking counseling and no one seemed to care - because she was the woman and she was wrong. I stayed angry for quite a few months, I felt very righteous in my anger - but I was wrong, it was not righteous anger, it was nasty anger. I took over a year off away from ANY church, wondering how I got to be a judgmental bible-thumper and why I turned on that church in the first place, maybe I wasn't even a Christian! I went to a few services at different churches to see if I would like this one or that one, but I was still torn - my beliefs were very fundamental Baptist and it is really hard to get away from believing that other churches were not Christian, so during this absenceI found that I knew less than anyone about Christianity or being a Christian - I was judgmental and probably did my fair-share of snubbing toward non-fundamental Baptists. It is really crushing when you find out you are a judgmental hypocrite, especially since you thought you were such a nice person.
A few times during that year, I would get visits from the deacons of the church and I would tell them I went here or there on a Sunday - right away, they would say, “but you are not getting the full gospel there.” I just wanted to punch them in the face; I have my bible and I can look up anything I think might be a discrepancy in their teaching (usually finding that the other churches were right and what I learned previously was wrong).
So after over a year, I found a little community church (that has been in my neighborhood forever), I think I will be happy there. They use the NIV, I don’t care because they still believe what the bible says and they still believe that Christ died for their sins and they still believe everything I believe in - minus the bible thumping - and I can live with that.
I read a humorous story on “if you believe (such and such) you may be an independent fundamental Baptist” There were 50 points... It was not so much funny as it was true... I think I believed every one of them most of my Christian life. What is sad is that most of those things were made up by man and not God - there is some truth to them, but not full truth. Filtering out which is true and which is not takes time spent in the Word of God; study and more study - prayer and more prayer. I have a lot of scales to shed and sometimes when I write I still sound like I am from the Westboro Baptist Church. Not that it is all bad (well mostly bad) - I believe those people are still saved - most of them, anyway; they just need to back up, show more love and lose the condemnation. Unfortunately, the majority of them won't find out that their judgmentalism is not what Jesus had in mind when he said, "Follow Me" until they stand before the Lord; and the result will be heartbreaking to them.
That is what I am trying to accomplish (being loving and kind and not judgmental); whether I ever will, remains to be seen. Life is getting shorter at this end and I would like to have done a few things right by the time I leave it; but I can do nothing more than try. I pray for a little wisdom, a lot of showing love and care, a lot of spending time in the Word, and a lot of being quiet and listening instead of mouthing off. The last part is not working as well as I would like, but baby steps... just baby steps.