I wonder how many of us feel like the only person who doesn’t fit in at church?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve felt like I’m going through initiation at a fraternity when stepping into church. Even when many of us find a small group and get plugged in, we still fight the feeling of being an outsider. A good deal of this problem comes from our unhealthy tendency to compare ourselves to each other.
Because we compare ourselves to one another, we constantly worry that all the Christians around us have a deeper or healthier walk with Christ. This unhealthy worry then causes us to doubt our own faith. Many times, I’ve found myself feeling like the only lost person in a room of people who have it all together.
Going to church is never supposed to feel like that. Church is supposed to be a place to belong and not to feel out of place. We need to fight back against this feeling with the truth.
The truth is that every person in the church building, from the pastor to the hung-over guy in the back, is a depraved sinner that is in desperate and daily need for Christ.
Other Christians are supposed to remind us of God’s power to make the broken into beautiful. We’re not supposed to look around at church and feel like the only person in desperate need for change. That perspective leads many of us to the conclusion that we need to get our act together so people at church will accept us.
That conclusion is a lie.
My Greatest Advantage
Even though I’m plugged into my church, I still feel this lie creep into the back of my mind every once and awhile. No matter how much I volunteer or how many church classes I take, I still struggle this problem. I have to go to the source of the problem to deal with it.
I feel like an outsider at church because of the assumption that I need to earn my place in THE world, consequently I find myself trying to earn my place church. My struggle with church acceptance has nothing to do with the church I attend. My struggle has everything to do with my warped view of acceptance
Most of us know that Jesus alone gets us into Heaven, but we think that WE need to deepen our faith and earn a place at our church. Our culture teaches us that we need some kind of strength, whether it is intelligence or good looks, to get anything good out of this life. This causes us to think that Christians with a deeper faith earned it with some combination of good works and moral discipline.
That is the opposite of the truth. Christianity is based on weakness and not strength. My weakness and need for God is my greatest advantage.
The only way to develop your relationship with Christ is to admit that you need His help.
Breaking the Curse
My relationship with Christ develops and deepens through admitting my weakness and becoming vulnerable. I open my heart to Him and the intimacy and love I get during those times strengthens our relationship. This is the same way we’re supposed to deepen our relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
The only way to break the curse of feeling like an outsider is to open up about our struggles and weaknesses.
No one fits in at church because of what they have to offer. People don’t show up to the hospital because they’re healthy. The only way to ‘fit in’ at church is to genuinely admit how much you need Christ instead of wondering how much He needs you.
Turns Out Sharing Really is Caring
The one thing we all share is our desperate and constant need for Christ. If we don’t recognize and remember this truth, we will continue to struggle with feeling out of place. Feeling like an outsider at church is one of the loneliest feelings in the world and the answer to the problem probably sits next to us during the sermon.
“Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .””
We feel like outsiders because we think we are the only person who struggles or that we are the ‘worst sinner in the room’. The only way to fight this lie is talking to people about your struggles and giving them a chance to tell you about what they deal with. Until you really open up, you will assume that you are the only one in the room without a perfect faith in Christ.
I am never closer to others than when I share the lonely feelings of my heart. We may feel like an outsider at church, but we have the power to change that. That power lies in revealing our weaknesses and not in advertising our strengths.
Sharing your struggles opens the door to Christ’s unconditional love and acceptance. It also makes it easier for other Christians to open up about their need for that love. Only when we realize that all of us share this need will we begin to fight the loneliness that we all feel at our church.
Image Copyright: Cory O’Quin https://www.flickr.com/photos/48314903@N08/6966982661/in/set-72157629182391988 by