By Whitney Capps
To live a life of we over me, we have to choose Jesus over ourselves—over our own comfort, convenience, and preconceived ideas. Here’s the hard truth: I will never choose others over myself if I won’t choose Jesus over me.
Churches may be handicapped by poor or ineffective leadership to be sure. But friend, churches may also be handicapped by immature, selfish members.
I think that’s why much of the New Testament, mainly the letters (Ephesians, Philippians, 1 Peter, etc.), deals with healthy church life, community-building, and the collective grace and holiness of God’s people.
God is specific about what the church is to believe and how it is to behave. Most of the time, God’s list and my list don’t exactly match up. This was so, so hard for me. Church is much more than I had believed.
It reminds me of a girl who, when planning her wedding, was a bridezilla on steroids. Everything had to be just the way she wanted it to be.
She had been, and I quote, “Dreaming about this day her whole life. It deserved to be perfect.” She made nearly everyone, including her future husband, miserable.
It became clear that she was far more in love with the idea of a wedding than with the idea of a marriage.
I wasn’t that kind of bride, but I’ve been that kind of church member. I love the idea of church, but I had a really specific idea of what it should look like. My dream of the perfect church was making everybody miserable.
I’ve been doing church for all of my life. My dad is my pastor. When Chad and I got married, Chad said he felt called to help my dad start and build the church we are now a part of.
I’ve never been in a church that wasn’t led by my dad. That means, in a manner of speaking, church is the family business.
It’s been my life. I did all the Vacation Bible Schools, went to youth camp, and dined at many covered dish meals. My earliest memories of Sunday School were around a kidney shaped table. This church thing runs deep.
There have been unbelievable highs and hard, hard lows. But over the last few years church has been super tough, like cried-my-pillow-soggy tough.
I became discouraged by this whole idea of church life. I began to focus on how church made me bitter instead of how church made me better. I was ready to quit.
After all, I could grow spiritually anywhere, even by myself. Why stay here to endure the hurt and frustration when I could experience community anywhere?
Remember, this church thing is embedded deep in my spiritual DNA. So I decided to see if God was actually committed to this idea of local, visible, “they-know-me-too-well” kind of church. Maybe I could make my peace with just being a part of the global, invisible church?
Spoiler alert. It’s the first. As it turns out, God cares deeply about the local, personal church. His goal for the church is so much greater than sweet Sunday services and polite fellowship. God’s goal is that we would grow in Christlikeness—so that each day we look a little more like Jesus and a little less like ourselves.
WHITNEY CAPPS (@whitneycapps) is a national speaker for Proverbs 31 Ministries and a writer for the new Bible app First 5, reaching more than 1,000,000 people daily. As a Bible study geek, Whitney’s delight is to dig into God’s Word for profound yet practical truth. She is the author of Sick of Me and group Bible study We Over Me, from which this is excerpted and adapted with permission.