Your parents or grandparents took you to church when you were younger, and maybe dragged you there in middle school. You were bored, or you just didn’t seem to fit the cookie cutter mold of what was expected of you then. As soon as you could stop going you did, and ever since you always tell people that you “just don’t believe in organized religion”. You had a few friends there, but you grew apart from them a long time ago. You still believe in God, but the rest is really just rules and opinions that don’t matter that much to you.
You’re older now, but you still live in the Bible belt so there’s really no escaping it. You just learned to ignore it, and over time you no longer included yourself into the category of “Christian”. You don’t like the stereotypes, and you know that not all Christians are that way. But you also know a lot of them are. They judged, rejected, or hurt you, and you don’t ever want to be apart of that again. But apart of you is still drawn to it, and sometimes you wonder what it would be like to go back. It seems like a commitment thats way to much for you right now. Maybe you have a friend who constantly asks you to go, but you decline. You have done a lot of things by now, and you know that you won’t be accepted. It has been to long, and your past or present doesn’t align with what you know they believe.
If any of that seems like you I want you to know that I’m sorry, and that it wasn’t your fault. You did not fail or not measure up. I wish I could change what you went through. But you are not alone, and there are ways to heal from the wounds of your past. I want you to know that going to church does not define you as a person, and your worth and value is not contingent on whether or not you go. I want you to know that any ideas of imperfection or judgement that you have felt are lies, and you should have never been made to feel that way.
Even though you don’t want to right now I think you should come. It isn’t about what we can do for you, but what you have to offer us. Did you know that you have things to offer that are not already present in our community? You have gifts that were given to you by God that we don’t have yet. You are a part of us, and we want the honor of being able to love you the way you should have been when you were younger. I want you to know that we probably won’t get it right the first time. It will be messy and hard, and I can promise that you are wanted and desired. Not just by me or our community, but by God. You are so desperately needed. You were made to love, and it doesn’t matter what you have done or will do. There is a time for growth and change, but right now your in the season of total acceptance.
So, it is up to you whether you will come this Sunday or twenty years from now. Someone once told me that “life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. So take a chance, be uncomfortable, and let yourself do something that scares you. It could be the best decision you have ever made.
I want to leave you with some verses in hopes that you will realize the truth of who God says you are.
You are endlessly loved.
“The mountains and hills may crumble, but my love for you will never end.” (Isaiah 54:10)
You were made intentionally.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
You are beautiful.
“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.” (Song of Solomon 4:7)
You are free.
“I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father.” (John 15:15)
You are righteous.
“God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
You are desired.
“Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us?'” (James 4:5)