Gab had a fulfilling day as a ministry worker for 2 Sunday services at a movie theater. After all equipment was kept, he thanked his fellow workers and parted ways with them.
He then started looking for a nearby restaurant. Along the way, he met a familiar face. It was his friend Rick, whom he hasn’t seen for a long time. With the intent of catching up, he invited him for a lunch date. Rick agreed. So they eventually found a restaurant where they could have lunch together.
While waiting for their orders to be served, they had this conversation.
“So what have you been doing lately?”, asked Gab.
“I’ve been busy… lots of things to do at work and home.”, answered Rick.
“I see…”, said Gab, “When can you come back to church? Many people missed you.”
“I really don’t know…”, said Rick.
“There’s a young adult fellowship this coming Friday.”, said Gab, “I hope you can come.”
“Let me think about it…”, answered Rick.
Gab felt something not right with Rick. So he asked, “Is there something wrong?”
“Nothing… Everything’s alright.”, answered Rick.
“You can tell me anything. I can help.”, said Gab.
Rick felt hesitant to tell Gab of the thoughts inside him. But in a little while, he found the courage to say them. He was ready to tell Gab. But before he could do it, their lunch was served. Gab initiated to pray for the food so they could start eating. After which, they ate.
Several minutes later, he then told this to Gab in the kindest way he knew how.
“I’m sorry to say this. But I don’t want to go to church anymore… I just don’t feel I belong… I always don’t feel welcome when I enter the doors. I’m looked down when I’m asked for my thoughts on things. I get embarrassed when they say hurtful things in front of me.”
Gab was saddened with what he learned.
“I notice this for every newcomer in church.”, Rick continued, “They have become so judgmental, in which they will become hypocrites eventually. I’m discouraged by this. I love everything about the church. It’s just that I don’t like the people.”
“I’m sorry to hear this.”, Gab said as he patted on Rick’s shoulder, “I just want to apologize on behalf of the church with what you’ve felt. But you know, you can try helping us to become better.”
Rick started to wonder of what Gab said.
Gab continued, “You see, we’re definitely imperfect. We’re messed up sometimes. We’re often inconsistent and inconsiderate. But you can help encourage us to be better. You can help us find our blind spots so that we won’t commit the same mistake again. You can help by not giving up on us, just as God hasn’t given up on you. And since you’re Christian, we’re all part of the same body.”
Rick bowed his face down.
“You’re Christian, and we’re all part of the same body. If you’re not with us, then a vital part of the body is missing. Given this, we can help you also. God designed Christians to have their spiritual needs met… at least in part, through the church. When you say that you can live your Christian life just fine and you don’t need to be an active in the church, it befits His purpose of creating fellowships like these. You need the church as much as any body part needs the rest of the body to survive.”
Rick started to think deeply of what Gab said.
“Think of this. If Jesus is the head and the church is the body, you can’t walk away from the body of Christ without walking away from Christ. If you want to abide in Him, you must abide in His church. But don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot more to Christianity than just being involved in the church. When you say that you can be a faithful Christian and give up being a part of the church, it’s not what it’s all about.”
Rick began understanding all the things Gab said.
“I hope that you understand all these.”, Gab said, “But it’s not too late. We’ll still welcome you back if you wish to. We’ll still be imperfect. But we’re really trying. And as a body, let’s help one another. Let’s love one another, worship together, and die to ourselves.”
Rick gave a thought to all of Gab’s words.
At that moment, Rick felt sense a relief.
“I understand now.”, Rick answered, “Right now, I just want to apologize. I just realized that I have also become judgmental, insensitive and inconsiderate. I’m also human with my imperfections.”
“It’s alright…”, Gab said, “That’s why we do this.”
“I think I can give it one more try.”, Rick said.
“That’s good to hear.”, Gab said, “I’ll address your concerns to the whole body. And when they still do that to you, I’ll back you up.”
“Thanks, Gab.”, said Rick.
It was late afternoon. They needed to exit the restaurant as they needed to go home.
“So I’ll see you Friday?”, Gab asked.
“Alright then, I’ll fix my schedule.”, Rick answered.
Both said their goodbyes and went on their separate ways. Rick walked his way to the bookstore, thinking about the conversation and hoping for a day where he could belong to the church he loved and felt that he could share his talents and skills to contribute to its direction. Gab went his way to the cab terminal, thinking about the conversation and hoping for a day where the church would keep a spirit of love and unity alive in order for experiences like Rick to not happen again.