This weekend we visited the church I grew up in. I quietly left in college for a sexier mega church not so bent on condemning those outside of their walls. Almost always when I write off stuffy religion and judgmental conservatism on the blog I’m picturing the red plush pews, the wooden cross and Christian flag on the stage and the 80 year old organ player drowning out our dull, routine-enslaved voices. I am picturing the church of my youth.
For all my emphasis on forgiveness I don’t know if I can say with confidence that I’ve forgiven that childhood church for the innumerable ideas planted deeply in my mind that still cause me to wonder if I’ve gone off the deep end and abandoned God’s holy and cautious truth.
I barely survived my upbringing in the faith. Plenty of my peers didn’t. I’m still undoing much of what I was taught there, and I’m amazed at how it creeps up even though I hadn’t been to the church in half a decade.
I have villain-ized the church some in my head, so it was good to come back and see some positives. The people are polite. I think they are well meaning and aren’t malicious or purposefully distorting the truth. I must credit them that the church supports dozens and dozens of missionaries around the world.
I was more than surprised to learn that the church is growing. I think I’m learning that God truly does use everything – and though most certainly they are not the church for me others seem to be finding much life there. So I’m happy for them that they are growing. I felt no need to challenge anyone on their beliefs – they can go ahead and believe the Second Coming is imminent because of all the natural disasters lately and that Obama is likely the Anti-Christ (they aren’t totally sure).
Ultimately, I think I’d be bitter at almost any church I would have grown up in. I really think that’s true. I think it’s immensely difficult to raise someone in Christianity and not turn it into a legalistic religion. The line really is quite fine. Though certainly I learned how to efficiently judge and condemned in those “open” doors, almost everyone has to visit that aspect in order to know it’s not the way of Jesus. So I don’t blame them too much, they are common and easy mistakes that I too make, still.
What kind of church did you grow up in (if at all)? Is it very different from the faith you have now? Do you have any bitterness? Was it difficult to visit it after a long absence?