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Church, Meth, & the Gospel

January 26, 2010

“The church I grew up in was hypocritical,” my waiter said after I asked him about his church background.

“I’m from east Texas- you know the Meth capital of the world. So people would do Meth and then go to our Baptist church on Sunday,” he said with a somewhat frustrated voice. “They acted so religious too.”

Not being from Texas, I didn’t know east Texas was famous for that.

“Do you go to church anywhere now?” I asked.

“No, I work Sundays and everything… and… church just isn’t for me.”

“Yeah I understand,” I said.

Where’s the life and joy?

My husband chimed in and shared about the ugliness of hypocrisy he saw at times in his church growing up.

Our waiter listened, gazing at the glasses that needed to be filled in the distance. As they conversed, I took some bites out of my steak, completely annoyed at where we stand as “the church” today.

I remember times growing up in the church and putting on my Sunday best. Singing those hymns, smiling, and shaking hands with people, but feeling like I was swimming in a sea of dead people. All I wanted to see was life and joy. I didn’t want to see hypocrisy.

When I went to college, I began to see God’s love like never before through his people and his Word. I grew in intimacy with him as I was surrounded by other Christ-followers. I started to look to God, and not at other people. Since getting married and moving to Dallas several years ago, I’ve been learning a lot about true, biblical community at our church. I’ve experienced what it means to be authentic, confess sins, and share struggles and it’s been life-changing.

The Church isn’t a Building

It’s the gospel over and over again- broken people coming to Jesus. But how come the church is missing it- they’re not even on the map?

I think we all have to face the fact that there is nothing great in us apart from Christ. We are all, in a sense, hypocritical people. That’s why we need a Savior. We need him to help us navigate the rough waters of isolation and pretending.

We have to realize that the church is made up of real people who are supposed to love God and others. It’s not a building. It’s the bride of Christ, put here on earth to reflect his glory.

The Gospel’s Transforming Power

Well my husband wrapped up what he was saying to our waiter and then invited him to our church, handing him a card with info on it. I sensed that he thought we were a little weird (Okay, maybe foreign), but that somehow he appreciated us chatting with him.

It’s my prayer that one day he can step foot in the church again and see how the church was really meant to be. That he would see the power of the gospel transform all forms of hypocrisy.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. January 26, 2010 2:13 pm

    “That he would see the power of the gospel transform all forms of hypocrisy.”

    Amen! We’re all hypocrites, in some way. Only a real relationship with Christ can change that in the end.

  2. January 26, 2010 2:26 pm

    I appreciate this post, Samantha. Yes, we’re hypocrites, but sadly it takes a life-giving church community to help us see that. I, too, grew up in a church where you wore your Sunday best and put on your best “attitude”, where no one was real with each other and the older women would be outraged when someone came in wearing (gasp!) jeans. It’s no wonder I ran away from the church during my college years.

    But thanks to my wife, my family’s prayers, Christ chased me back down, and continues to use my brothers and sisters to help me see my flaws and vice versa.

  3. January 26, 2010 4:09 pm

    Andy- thanks for those thoughts. It’s still hard to believe that jeans, music, pews, and dancing are still being fought over today.

    While I saw a lot of issues in the church I grew up in, I’m still thankful that God used it in my life- as I’m sure the same with you (even when you had to run from it).- I’d be interested to hear more of your salvation story. I know in the stats out there, maybe Ed Stetzer’s, that the majority of people lose their faith or quit on church is in college…

    So glad God is in the business of chasing us down no matter how stubborn we are.

    • January 26, 2010 5:16 pm

      Samantha…a shortened version was part of my very first blog post, which also happened to be the 1st sermon I ever preached. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/dAb6Nu

      Separately, I did a longer series, “Focus”, that starts here: http://bit.ly/cTu2aa – that’s the 1st of a 5 part series detailing my life from college until about 4 years ago…

  4. January 26, 2010 5:56 pm

    Amen Samantha!

  5. ericandlora permalink
    January 27, 2010 3:10 pm

    Thanks for visiting my site! Did you go to Portico when you were in C’ville?

  6. January 29, 2010 12:39 am

    “We are all, in a sense, hypocritical people. That’s why we need a Savior. ”
    Love this, Samantha! Jesus didn’t have to die because we were all perfect. He died because we aren’t always right, or good, or pure. He died because we’re all hypocrites!

  7. January 30, 2010 12:21 am

    Great post… I see issues (not just hypocrisy) in every church I have worked with and will work with, sometimes I just have to ask myself “why?”

    I was talking just today with someone who is dragged kicking and screaming to church since she was a child and I apologized to for the way Christians in her life have treated her.

  8. January 31, 2010 8:52 pm

    Thanks guys. I too, have found myself apologizing to those who have been really burned by the church or “religious” people. I wish everyone could realize that people will most often let you down, but Christ never will. All in all, I think people are starving for a community of believers who don’t claim to have it all together, but are “struggling well” in their journey and who are quick to offer grace…

  9. February 1, 2010 1:25 pm

    I just found your blog randomly today and have really enjoyed reading it. And I’m sooooo jealous you got to meet Margaret Feinberg….okay, I know that was forever ago but still….you got to meet her and her husband…how cool is that? I’m excited about reading more of your blog and getting to know you more. I loved your heart in this post and it represents how I feel as well. May God continue to use your writing for His glory and purposes!

  10. February 1, 2010 4:52 pm

    Samantha,
    I am doing the Sacred Echo as a community bible study with a group of ladies and I love it. I keep seeing “BlueFish” on the side of the box and had no idea what that was. Last week in study I commented how refreshing it was to hear real live stories in the mix of the dvd and more than anything what I appreciated is that some of the stories are shared while still in the midst of the season of pain. Often times we hear a great juicy testimony when it’s at the end of the season (lookin in hindsight) and you can see the hoped-for outcome but rarely do you see people willing to share their stuff in the midst of the pain when you don’t know for sure it will end the way you are hoping for. The other thing I sooooo appreciate about the dvd series is the low cost. THANK YOU (or whoever the appropriate person is to thank) for that contribution because for smaller churches (which is what we just came from) find it difficult to pay $300 for a leader’s kit. I was blown away at the low cost of one her studies. Okay, this is turning into a “why didn’t you just email instead of comment” comment. Well, I’m off to read your bluefish label to find out more.

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