One of my strongest memories of growing up in church is not a pleasant one. I was in the seventh grade. I can remember my mom coming home sobbing after a Sunday evening service. Dad was with her in the bedroom, but I could hear their conversation.
Mom had been severely reprimanded by several of the older women of the church for wearing eyeliner and lipstick. Apparently, they confronted her after church that evening and she was devastated. Mom didn’t tell me until years later that she had always felt like, “an ugly duckling,” and makeup made her feel pretty. I heard mom mention names to dad. I knew most of them—gluttons and gossipers with unnatural deep, black “beehive” hair-do’s. One of them was my Sunday School teacher. At that moment, I declared war!
Like any good soldier, I waited for my opportunity. It came that very next week during the Sunday School lesson when that teacher looked at me and said, “If God wanted women’s lips to be red, he would’ve made them that way when they were born.” I nervously fired back, “If God wanted your hair to be jet black, he would’ve kept it that way at age 67!” A few minutes later, my dad mysteriously showed up and pulled me out of class. I guess I lost that battle!
My mom loves God. She talks about Him constantly. She’s never afraid to share her faith; however, she does not go to church. Recently, we have had conversations about getting involved again.
Jesus was indignant against those that got in the way of people who were honestly searching for God. Yet, He was infinitely patient with those who were genuinely searching for Him. God isn’t interested in meaningless, narrow-minded, empty rules. He wants your heart.
May you, may we, not confuse religion with the heart of God.
“Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.” I John 2:10 (NIV)
No wonder some people do not like church. It is hard to love some of the people that attend.