Love Christ, Leave the Church?


Mike Glenn shares his view on being committed to Christ but refusing to be a part of the Church.

I remember when Anne Rice, the famous author, announced that she had left Christianity. According to her statement, she remains committed to Christ, but has left Christianity. Here is part of her statement:

For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.

Now, my first response was, “I don’t blame her. Catch me on the right day, and I’ll leave with her.” Anyone—and I mean ANYONE—who has worked in a local church will tell you that sometimes Christians are anything but…

Of course, her announcement was celebrated in the world. “See,” the columnists and bloggers wrote. “No one with any conscience can be a member of the church or a part of Christianity—certainly no one with talent, sophistication, worldly savvy and intelligence like Anne Rice.” Well, of course, the world celebrated. They just wanted another bullet to put in their gun to shoot at the faith.

For the record, it is important to understand that Anne Rice still considers herself to be a believer in Christ, just not a believer in the church.

I would agree with Ms. Rice in this point: the church is not a perfect place. We are made up of imperfect people who bring their issues, brokenness and open wounds into the church every week. If the church was a perfect place, we wouldn’t have let Ms. Rice in—or me or you, for that matter.

Also, she really didn’t say anything new. Prophets and preachers have been condemning the same behavior for generations. Church is what happens when you open the doors and don’t charge admission.

We are all on a journey together. Yes, it’s slow and frustrating, but together we learn and love and in general—though it’s often one step up and two steps back—learn to become more like Christ.

I know her frustration. I know her anger. I can’t tell you the number of times I have prayed Jesus would let me go do something else. But He won’t. I am called to serve the church. I know that. So I stay. I love Jesus. That means you love His body the church. That means you honor His Bride, the church.

As long as the church opens its doors to sinners, we are going to be a messed up place. That means sometimes, people like Ms. Rice, will get disgusted and leave. But Jesus has stayed with the church through worse. I think I’ll stay too.

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