This is a scenario every preacher and elder knows: A family has been missing from worship. When a church leader notes this, he goes to their home to determine if there is anything he can do.
During the visit the family throws a number of accusations at the church. This church “doesn’t feed me,” this church “doesn’t have a good youth program,” someone in the church “said something insensitive,” and, my personal favorite, “there are hypocrites in the church.”
Our visitor leaves their home crestfallen and discouraged. To begin with, he is disappointed because a family he cares about appears to be out of his reach. Secondly, he is aware of his own limitations. He is not perfect. Neither is his congregation. If the family was expecting perfection, he knows, the church had lost them from the start. Like a twenty-foot goal in a basketball game, it was an expectation too high for a church to achieve.
It is interesting that in these interactions, it’s always the church’s fault. The church is too easy a target.
Statistics prove that 100% of churches are comprised of … human beings.
Some are new Christians whose behavior reflects their spiritual immaturity (1 Peter 2:2). Others are Christians who have warmed a pew for a long time but have not matured spiritually as they should have (Hebrews 5:11-14). And, because I know one very well indeed, preachers are not perfect either.
But I have a question that rarely seems to be asked: Is there ever a sufficient reason for leaving Christ and his church?
As it turns out, people who have done wrong have been making excuses for their behavior for a long time. Apparently they believed their extenuating circumstances excused their behavior: Adam blamed Eve for his sin; Eve blamed the serpent (Genesis 3:12,13). Cain was not certain his brother was his responsibility anyway (Genesis 4:9). King Saul believed the pressure of those around him accounted sufficiently for his mistakes (1 Samuel 15:15,21).
What I am getting at, beloved, is there is never a good reason to do a wrong thing; two wrongs still do not make a right. Even when it is someone in the church who fails us, we must still continue to serve God. If everyone left the church because someone disappointed us, mark this, there would be no church left.
Jesus was wronged, historically wronged, yet he did not use this as an excuse for wrong in return (1 Peter 2:23). We can thank God that Jesus did not use our mistakes as his reason for abandoning us.