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If you've been hurt by the church, why you should take another look .

I saw her in the department store. A tall, slender, brunette. She was well dressed and minding her own business when I asked her if she knew where the service department was. Apparently, my forwardness was an inconvenience or an unwanted solicitation as she made no attempt to give me an answer. Perhaps she didn’t hear me. Again, with my question, yet louder. Still, she ignored me. I mean, I was polite, I wasn’t seeking to inconvenience her. I just needed to know where the service department was located. Luckily for me, my wife was able to find me and interrupt my impatience and feelings of being insulted with, “Why are you talking to a mannequin?” Well in my defense, her back was turned to me!

Many of you have felt insulted, offended, and downright annoyed at the church. Your egregious feelings may very well be justified. Christians are, by no means, perfect, and often represent poorly the image of Christ they profess to bear. The Bible identifies Christians, and accumulatively the “Church”, as the body of Christ. What we know of Jesus Christ, love Him or hate Him, is that He went about doing good deeds and healing people. Why then, do so many of those who profess to be His body, not behave accordingly? Quite simply, you may have just been introduced to mannequins.

That mannequin in the department store sure did look real! She was the right height, a realistic build, and was wearing attire befitting any woman her age. Yet beneath that adornment of a presence of life stood a plastic, lifeless resemblance of the real thing. I took offense to her unwavering attention because I mistook her for something she was not.

Atrocities committed in the name of Jesus are oxymorons, committed by morons. I’m here to set the record straight. While we may be guilty of taking the wrong sides at times and behaving very un-Christ like (I admittedly am guilty), I want to offer another perspective. That, perhaps, what you have been angry at, or what you walked away from was not the body of Christ, but a mere lifeless shape, dressed and adorned in religion, that professed to advertise something that it did not in fact possess itself.

The true body of Christ is characterized by the actions, principles, and virtues of Jesus. We seek justice for victims. We feed the hunger, clothe the naked, and visit the prisoners. We lead with self-less love and choose to forgive rather than fight. When we fight, we fight FOR others, not against them, with prayer and faith, longing for hope and renewal. We proclaim the Gospel by our own death to self, burial of sin, and new life in serving others.

I want to invite you to take another look. Maybe what you encountered was a knock off. Maybe you would consider your experience was with “mannequins”. I would like to invite you to an introduction of a living, breathing, Christ-modeling community near you.