- Sonja Wetzel
Have you ever stopped to really think about 1 Corinthians 6:19-20? Paul reminds us, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” Steve was talking about sacred spaces on Sunday, and it got me thinking about how easily we forget that God is always with us. We take a sacred space with us wherever we go when we have given our lives over to Christ. How often do we pollute that sacred space with anger, selfishness, impatience, and other vices? Every time we treat others with anything other than love, we miss an opportunity to share the Good News we have in Christ. There is no point in having a sacred space if we do not learn and grow in it then go out and share what we have learned. The entire Bible is filled with people’s experiences and how their lives were changed by God. Are we sharing our life-changing experiences?
As soon as my daughter and I got home from church, she found a TikTok of someone sharing a beautiful hymn as worship for Sunday. The responses of the people in the comments were the thing that was so heart-wrenching. So many of them were from people who loved church and then were treated terribly by the people inside, so they have never set foot in a church again. There was even a response from a pastor’s wife that said she’d never go back because of the things she had heard from those at churches. People have given up on God because of people claiming to be Christians and yet treating others with judgment and disrespect. I know I have talked about this in the past, but my heart hurts so much for each person that is saying, “I don’t want anything to do with the God those people claim to follow.” I keep hearing these things, and I keep asking myself, “What have we done?! And how do we fix this?!” Because even if we have not said hurtful things to people, we have allowed these issues by not pursuing the people who have left our churches because of words said in ignorance or judgment. If you are one of those people who have had a bad experience, I would like to apologize, to let you know that God loves you right where you are, that some of us are horrified by how you were treated, and that we are working to change.
In these times, I feel we are holding our church buildings like they are the Holy of Holies and no one is allowed unless you at least look like you are perfect. Too many people have heard, “You can’t wear that in church” or “We don’t raise our hands at this church” or have been scolded if their children make a little too much noise. Despite the New Testament showing us that Jesus called all the children to Him and that He hung out with all the low and dirty outcasts. Let us remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:1-2, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Our world is hurting and broken, and even in large groups people feel alone. There are too many committing suicide because they do not see any hope or love. Where is the unconditional love we are called to share? Where is the church that people feel drawn to when they are overwhelmed with doubt and fear? Are we welcoming those lost and hurting people with open arms, or do we act like they need to get themselves together a bit before they walk through the doors? We are all sinners, and we need to stop acting like we are better than others because we have “become a Christian.” We must remember that we all have temptations and bad days where we forget to Whom we belong. We have been given much grace, and we must give much grace to others.