Growing up in a non-Christian household, I knew nothing about church until I was in sixth grade. When a friend of mine requested that I attend church with his family, I accepted. I enjoyed it. I liked the pastor. I liked the people. I loved the food. And I even learned about this guy named Jesus.
Growing up in a Jewish household, I was not raised religious. We would attend the synagogue to make it look good in front of the other family members who were very active. My parents did not practice regularly. They maintained a good image when it was required. So going to church wasn't something out of the ordinary. It was just something I did as a way to hang out with my friend and his family.
However, as I grew older, I enjoyed going more and more. Later in life, I was involved in a serious relationship with a girl who's family was very heavily involved in church. It was the first time I experienced two-faced hypocritical Christian behavior. Her dad would smack her mom around. Mom would typically walk around with bruises on her face and arms. But in front of the families, friends, neighbors, and coworkers, they had a great relationship. On Sunday, they would attend church, be the perfect Christian family, hang out at a bible study after, typically do lunch or brunch with several families, and Sunday evening dad would go home, go into his garage, work on his cars, drink, and start slapping mom around that night.
The girl I dated was very abusive, psychologically unfit and emotionally unstable. I found this out in our short relationship. I saw a lot of things about "Christians" that was a significant reason why I didn't step foot in a church for two years after I walked out of the relationship.
When I did start attending church, I would see the same people at bible studies in the bar on weekends. The ones preaching about not engaging in premarital sex would be sleeping with their girlfriends and multiple others. The same people who would preach about not drinking, doing drugs or engaging in "non-Christian" behavior would be doing just the opposite. I learned about the do as I say and not as I do behavior very early in life. I found it entertaining that someone could spend the whole week acting like a whore, sleeping around like a pig, and then go to church and preach about people doing that and how they shouldn't do it.
As I grew older, I saw more that I was disgusted by. I'd stop attending service for a couple of weeks for one simple reason - I would be tired after hanging out at the bar with my friends, drinking, playing music and having a good time. The ironic part is, the entire next week, I would typically not hear a word from the "Good practicing Christians" - They were too busy conforming to their social circles, hanging out with their bible thumping friends, and making sure nobody knew they'd been drunk at that very same bar the weekend before, flirting with and trying to pick up some girl in the bar they weren't dating or married to, and then would go about their lives, telling people what to not do. The ironic part? They'd spent the previous weekend doing just the opposite.
And as I learned the behavior of Christians, I would continue to see the same thing regardless of what church I went to, what service I attended (or didn't), what pastor was preaching, and who was telling the gospel according to the Bible. The minute a member stopped going? They stopped existing. Nobody would call. Nobody would talk about them (Unless to mention backsliding, them not being a devoted follower, or them being a "fly by night" Christian). And I've experienced the same behavior.
I've heard the excuses. "People are busy" and "People have a life too" but I've seen that the minute people go back to Church, they once again belong. They once again fit in. They once again find themselves with more friends than they know what to do with.
It's one reason among many why I have faith in God but I've lost faith in many of His followers.
For years, I have attended church, read my bible, prayed to God, had a one-on-one relationship with Him, and have been utterly disgusted with people I've met at church that I've once called friends. When I go? I'm part of who they are, what they do and how they live. When I stop going? I stop existing. It's the way church runs. It's the way that religion works. Religion is not the root of all evil. The people that follow it, practice it, and preach it are.
I have faith in God. I"ve just simply lost faith in many of His followers. He never leaves. He never fails. But the minute I stop attending church? His followers disappear like the blink of an eye.
I have attended church since I was 18 on a regular basis. Whether it's a holiday service. Whether it's a Sunday service. Whether it's just on an occasional day that I have a free moment. But one thing I've noticed that doesn't change, regardless of who I meet, where I go, or what building the church is in - As long as I go? I fit in. The minute I stop going?
I stop existing.
I know people are busy. I know people have a life. I know people have families. But what I find is most ironic is that the ones that don't attend church are the ones that never stop talking to me. The ones that don't practice or preach religion are the ones that keep calling. The ones that have children still manage to find time to talk to me. The ones who work three jobs still reach out to me and ask me how I'm doing. The ones that have a mental illness, disabilities and other things that they don't want to talk about managing to be my friend. It's one reason among many why I have faith in God but I've lost faith in many of His followers.
God has given me a good life. Many of His followers, including people I can't even call friends have given me nothing but heartache and pain.
I love God. I am just disgusted at many of His followers. And I've accepted it's time to move on. It's one reason why I don't make friends at church anymore. It's one reason why I don't take the time to attempt to talk to people I once knew. I know when they reach out every few weeks or months, it's to make them feel good about themselves, put on a good friend and tell their friends, "Yep. I talked to him. I checked up on him" and it makes them look good.
And that's one reason among many why I have my faith in God and I've lost faith in many of His followers.
Be real. Not fake. And if you can't do that? Disappear. Just like so many Christians have.