The Long Walk of Love at Home
Home is where we nurture our core perspectives. How we are taught to view our world, the people in it, and specifically our Christian brothers and sisters, impacts our relationship with the church. This doesn’t mean a negative spiritual experience at home predisposes someone to reject the gospel, no more than a positive one guarantees acceptance. In fact, I believe we are on dangerous ground when we play armchair quarterback in other people’s families. Unless we live there, we don’t have the whole story, and we do well to judge on our own circumstances.
On the other hand, when we consider the time we spend with family it is difficult to deny the role our loved one’s play in forming our opinion of Christ’s Bride, and in some cases our behavior toward her. Over the years I have had many discussions with people who say they believe in Jesus, but have no interest in His church. To be honest, after hearing some of their stories I understand, though I disagree with their decisions to distance themselves from the Lord’s people.
Yet, the most troublesome excuses are those that have been imprinted on people’s hearts by other family members. I have met children who refuse to attend church because their parents had a conflict with a church leader or disliked the way the church was doing ministry. They are rarely able to give me any details, but they remember someone in the church hurt their parents, and they want no part of it. I have had similar conversations with spouses and siblings. It is human nature to want to protect and defend those we love, so it doesn’t surprise me to find Christians who don’t want anything to do with the church due to the grievances of family members.
While I am certain negative experiences in the church are a reality, as I have had several in my own life, I also think it is possible to overlook a more important issue. If I am not able to find peace in my conflict with my brothers and sisters in Christ, and put a stop to my constant criticisms, how in the world do I expect the people who love me to love Christ’s Bride? If I want to bring my children, my spouse or my siblings to salvation, what do I think I am accomplishing when I bash the very thing I want them to embrace?
Imagine a bride making the long walk of love toward her future husband, and as she walks some in attendance hand her notes criticizing her dress and hairdo. Two more notes request that she ask her father to take bigger steps, and one points out a typo in the program. Even the bridal party is upset. Some of them are unhappy with their placement, and there is considerable dissatisfaction over the banquet hall that has been chosen for the reception. A young flower girl, who has been privy to the nasty conversations taking place between the adults around her, decides then and there she will probably never get married. If, by some chance she does, she definitely won’t invite any people. Can you blame her?