Going to church sometimes gets the same bad rap as horror movies. Non-Christians often judge it by its worst examples and not its best, sometimes seeing it as an artificial construct only taken seriously by children and requiring a lot of suspension of disbelief. If you’re an adult and claim to enjoy horror movies, people look at you as though you’ve just claimed boxed wine was as good as Pouilly-Fuissé. After all, those horror films are all alike right?
It lets me understand some the scared looks I get when I talk about church. Some are scared because they think I’m going to ask for their time, like an awkward invitation to a 3-hour church service or asking them to read pamphlets in order to “find Jesus.” Others are afraid I’ll turn into a creature that foams at the mouth about gays or acts like some ignorant zealot who stumbled out of Bill Maher’s “Religulous.”
Inevitably, the worst is when they roll their eyes as if to say, “Oh, all you Christians are alike.”
They fear I’m going to tell them something they already know: that they’re not living in accordance with the Bible. They fear the zombie’s ubiquitous cry of “brains!” will be replaced by a lecture about how right my life is and how wrong their life is, as if going to church can only make me more judgmental and less loving of my neighbor instead of vice versa.
Like the moviegoer who’s seen one too many b-horror movies, non-Christians often expect me to not be satisfied until I’ve converted them into the same brainless drone I must be.
Fortunately when I discuss church it’s to talk about the awesome people I’ve met there and the wonderful efforts they make in helping the community. I don’t invite friends to sit in the pew next to me on Sunday because I’m not always there. I don’t tell them how miserable and sinful they are because I know I’m not living how the Bible tells me.
It reminds me of Matthew 7:5: You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
For me church isn’t a place to sit vacant-eyed until coffee-hour afterward, it’s for me to have a better understanding of my own limitations and shortcomings. I don’t go to become part of the masses, it’s to become a stronger individual. And if I talk about God, it’s not to convert you. I’d rather have conversations with a thoughtful atheist than a zombie-like Christian. I like horror, but not that much.