Sunday, January 12, 2014

why I don't hate the Church

{photo by Jennifer}

why do you hate the Church?

I get asked that question a lot, especially by those who have found themselves reading my plea for permission not to be a Christian anymore from last year. I'm finding myself having to explain myself over and over, in my awkward stammering way which belies the confident way I lay out my words in writing, that I am not targeting the Church. I do not hate the Church. I have no ax to grind, I have no vendetta.

my choice to refrain from referring to myself as a Christian was not because I have turned my back on my local body, and it's not because I'm sitting and staring daggers at any other believer-housing building that I have encountered in my past.

mostly it's because I'm tired of need-to-know religion.

in her stunningly visceral book, Pastrix, Nadia Bolz-Weber writes the following words which drew an audible gasp from my mouth and brought me to tears the first time I read them :: "we want to go to God for answers, but sometimes what we get is God's presence." and that right there is why I needed to lay down the name.

because we've somehow set it up that walking into Church and into Christianity is the way to have all the answers, to find the magic guidebook and a pile of glimmering power-ups. we have somehow given the impression that there is a laundry list of answers just waiting to be discovered, and if you look long enough and walk the paces with exactly the same amount of distance between each step, we will find it and everything will be made clear.

but if that's what you're looking for when you throw in your lot with the Lion, you're going to be disappointed. it's mystery. it's grace that is completely beyond comprehension. it's redemption for all, no one left outside.

sometimes, I get this wild mad idea that maybe the Church doesn't have to be clean carpet. maybe we can go back to the cross, the splintered wood stained with blood and the way He talked to the thief hanging beside Him while they mocked him from the ground.

I've stepped back from religion. I can't do the treasure hunt anymore. but that Carpenter from Galilee cooking fish on the beach and smearing mud to restore sight?

I cannot get enough of Him.


  1. Dear Rachel
    Oh, many people will misunderstand what you are trying to tell them for we still have an enemy that veils our minds with a thick veil of religion. I read an interesting article on a website, Wicked Shepherds, that church comes from the Greek "Oikos"and that means a family or a household and the love they share. It has never and will never be a building or an earthly dwelling.
    Blessings for 2014, dear friend XX

  2. This is precious, Rachel. So many miss Jesus and just hang on to religion. Religion isn't going to count when all is said and done since we won't have 'known' Him.

  3. i stepped back from the american cheeseburger religion quite a few years ago... i'm sorry to label it so harshly.
    i was part of it; but now i feast on his presence. i understand and enjoyed your thoughts to the very last sentence! :)

  4. Sometimes I get goosebumps when you write. I love it.

  5. I loved the messages in Nadia's book. She has such an authenticity and faith that allows rooms for doubt and questions.

    "it's mystery. it's grace that is completely beyond comprehension. it's redemption for all, no one left outside."

    Yes. My definition of church has changed drastically the past couple of years. I see it less as the group of people I gather with on Sunday (although they are part of it), and more with individual people I gather with throughout the month over lunch or in transit or online. May the Lord continue to bless you on your journey. It's sacred.


I look at you and see all the ways a soul can bruise, and I wish I could sink my hands into your flesh and light lanterns along your spine so you know there's nothing but light when I see you. :: Shinji Moon