I’m grateful to local pastor Sandy Young for tweeting about Edwin Andrew Love’s post Three Things I Need to Say. Love’s entry is a profound apology to a church he left, and it contains insightful reflections on our mindset of discontent that sometimes manifests itself in cyclical dissatisfaction with the local church.
I’ve written a series about Leaving Your Church, and Love’s insights need to be included in it.
What I had created in my mind was a church in my own image. I knew how it should operate; I knew how its leaders should lead; I knew how decisions should be made. So when reality didn’t line up with my fantasy, my ego balked, my heart hardened, and I stopped seeing the church as a place where God invites us to serve one another and instead commenced to critique it through a me-centered, consumerist standard against which no institution comprised of human beings could measure up…
Funny how my inflated sense of prophetic zeal spent more time in a self-polluting inner monologue than actually working to confront or resolve any issues, real or imagined. How noble, right?
Love describes the process of joining a church after leaving another in frustrated disgust. Sometime later, he is convicted by a new awareness of the presence of Christ in the body. His words are humble and bold:
Church, I’m sorry.
There is nothing impressive about my proclamations of love for Jesus that came while lobbing stones at the church he died to save. There is nothing impressive about it at all. It takes little to no effort to be a fault-finder among the people of God.
..the Bible calls us to something far greater than finger-wagging denigration of his church, his body here on earth. In the gospel of John, Jesus says to his disciples that the mark by which they will be defined as his body is not their high and mighty ability to condemn; no, he tells them they will be known as his by the love they bear for one another.
If you’ve left a church for the wrong reasons, or still find it easier to lob criticisms from a sanctimonious couch, I’d urge you to read Love’s entry. It’s instructive for us all.