Why don’t people go to Church?
Why do many cringe at modern Christianity with their gag reflexes in full bloom?
Why are conservative brands of faith losing so much of their credibility and influence?
Do we really want to know—could we handle the truth—would we even listen to their reason?
It’s not because of some kind inherent distaste for Jesus and a rejection of His Truth. It’s not from a deep dark cultural stronghold of apathetic spiritual laziness. It’s not because of some depraved aversion to God and holiness rampant within society. We may wish it were all so easily wrapped up and reasoned away with the simple declaration that the “world” is showing itself to be as hopelessly lost, blind, wayward, and carnal as we deem them to be—but they aren’t.
In fact, the Light God has placed within all people shines into the religious darkness of our day, revealing a disturbing manifestation humanity can’t ignore—the reckless tampering and deep distrust of Love within conservative Christianity. For all of our spiritual fanfare, many rightfully discern that something is deeply askew among us, and though they may not always be able to put their finger on it, they can’t shake the unsettling in their spirit. The one place, the one people with whom love should boldly rule the day, be adored in all its splendor, and lifted high up above all things, is among Christians. Yet, the loudest confession heard around the world from the megaphone of conservative Christianity is sadly this—”Love isn’t enough.”
Try as we might to frantically plaster heaping loads of lipstick upon the pig of our conservative brand of Christianity, people aren’t stupid. The Judas that is conservative Christianity has sold out Love in exchange for power, betrayed Grace with the kiss of control, and crucified it all into a self-righteous religion for the privileged—daring to pimp it as the one true authentic way of Jesus.
Instead of being unified by love and that being enough, we insist on gathering in cookie-cutter groups of like-minded people corralled together by a laundry list of beliefs, values, and vision we must agree upon to have membership, relationship, and community with one another. Love takes a back seat (if a seat at all) and must first yield to our creeds instead of our creeds first yielding to Love. Hollow Churches of fake unity span the horizon as far as the eyes can see—people resign themselves to going through the motions and agreeing on the surface in order to fit in and meet expectations. Love doesn’t rule in our churches, rules rule in our churches. Compliance, conformity, conditions—everything but Love. Spiritual growth is restricted and restrained—coloring outside the lines of conservative ideology is shamed, even if just for a season. Where Jesus wants to build longer tables where every creed, orientation, gender, belief, color, status, shape, and nationality has a seat, we build taller walls of every spiritual, relational, and physical dimension and try to sell it to the world as true community.
Instead of simply loving people and that being enough, we treat them as projects—a spiritual notch for our religious belts. Somehow we have convinced ourselves that we not only have the calling but the capacity to change people, even ourselves. What only the Spirit can do, we have hijacked into our own personal and corporate mission. The truth is, we don’t trust the Spirit, nor Grace, nor Love to do what only the Spirit, Grace, and Love can do—quite the opposite. Rather, in order to legitimize our own efforts and justify our fleshly interventions, we declare pure Grace to be cheap, unconditional Love to be dangerous, and the Spirit needing our involvement. While Jesus’ greatest concern is that people get more than enough love and believe in it completely, our greatest fear is that we would grant too much of it and cause people to trust it too deeply. You say that God loves me where I’m at, but enough not to leave me there—which is of course, where you see the beginning of your mission to try and fix me. I say, God loves me enough that He doesn’t need you to repair, change, confront, or direct me—His Grace is sufficient, His Spirit fully capable, and His Love is more than enough to do the trick—with or without you. See, that’s the real kicker, isn’t it? For if God ever did use you in another’s life to help in the molding, it would be through the fruits of the Spirit not the nails, crosses, proof-texts, and conditions of your conservative methodology. Why? Because I, like everyone else, am a divinely made person not a church mission project.
Imagine if Christianity became a faith where love is enough, and therefore our unity could be founded not on a contrived fabricated alignment of ambition, thinking, and believing, but on a genuine willingness to agree to disagree and embrace our differences—all at the table.
Imagine if Christianity became a faith where love is enough, and therefore the everything of what we had in common was our mutual respect of all people of all faiths, backgrounds, and settings as created and divinely imaged by God Himself no less than we or anyone else—no more discrimination, marginalization, or people-judging.
Imagine if Christianity became a faith where love is enough, and therefore we became a people of genuine equality, where everyone is beautifully different, and beautifully no better or worthy—no more one-upping, privilege-seeking, or people-labeling.
Imagine if Christianity became a faith where love is enough, and therefore the Spirit was given full trust and freedom to work in the hearts, minds, and souls of people as we simply loved them unconditionally—no more strings attached, fine-print, deal-breakers, or hidden expectations.
Imagine if Christianity became a faith where love is enough, and therefore loving people (beginning with ourselves) was the only “to do” if there ever needed to be a list—no more people-policing, sin-managing, fruit-inspecting, God-appeasing, faith-proving, self-improving, or becoming all-you-can-be for Jesus.
Imagine if Christianity became a faith where love is enough, and therefore we became a people best known by “the greatest of these is love” instead of “the greatest of these is us”—no more violence, condemnation, and insisting on our own way.
For sadly, we have made Jesus into so much of everything He is not and following Him into such a tiring, empty, phony, love-less, and selfish pursuit. If only we could see what we have become and the people who are dying on our vines, destroyed at the feet of our conservatism. The shade we throw at the world is scorching good people, nailing Jesus back upon the cross, and declaring to the planet, “Love doesn’t win, Grace isn’t sufficient, and Hell is the heart of the Father for people who don’t love Him back in return.”
Conservative Christian, I beg of you, why can’t love be enough?
Why can’t love be enough as the sum and singular message of the Gospel of Jesus?
Why can’t love be enough to bring us together and graft us into authentic community?
Why can’t love be enough to fulfill and maximize our divine responsibility and care for people?
Why can’t love be enough to make our worship attractive, churches deemed as successful, and our faith relevant?
Why can’t love be enough to drive our aspirations and quench our thirst for significance?
Why can’t love be enough to guide our exegesis, calibrate our theologies, and dictate our use of the Scriptures?
Why can’t love be enough for those with whom we disagree, believe to be sinning, or even show themselves to be an enemy?
Do we really need all this other stuff? Nationalism, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, judgmentalism, self-righteousness, selfishness, and elitism? Bible-weaponizing debates, clubs with crosses on top, and a gun-carrying, militant, Republican version of Jesus who feeds the multitudes but denies healthcare to the hundreds of thousands?
Is this truly the heart and way of Jesus?
I just want to love God, myself, and people without restriction, conditions, or limits. I want to be free to journey with Jesus, fully abandoned to where His Grace might take me. I want to experience the joy, fulfillment, and satisfaction of a life lived outside the confines, condemnations, and religious rule-keeping of religion.
With a world watching, waiting, and carefully listening to the beat of our hearts in hopes of seeing Jesus.
Conservative Christian, I beg of you, for the sake of heaven and all humanity, why can’t love be enough?
Why. Can’t. Love. Be. Enough?
Grace is brave. Be brave.
Another post that perfectly describes all the feelings and questions in my heart as I left the church to make my own spiritual path. The concerns and disquieting revelations were there all the while on my almost 20 year journey into conservative Christianity, but it took the knowledge that my love of my beautiful, loving, kind and compassionate lesbian daughter would put my Christianity in question that caused me to publically pull the plug on the whole thing. Love is enough. Love is everything. Love wins.
Debbi, thanks so much for reading this article and taking the generous time to comment. Sure do appreciate you and your encouraging words.
My own path was filled with the love and the loving of Christ!
I had to do exactly what you did – the day I read a post from a grieving father whose priest told him that if he loved his son his own salvation was in danger.
I made a public spectacle of myself – renouncing the church that in many ways kept me alive all my life, taught me what unconditional love really was…..
But I too have a gay child. A beautiful boy! I had to step up for him to the world!
I will never denigrate my own experiences, or the church in general – and I know there will be a day when it will all be about love for everybody else – now I am just concentrating on me being all about love! which is difficult enough!!!!
Again, Thank you for this profound post which defines for me the simplicity and enormity of Christ’s love and grace while expounding on how the Gospel has been kidnapped. I think of the “teacher’s favorite” or “mother’s favorite”. Oh how perfectly behaved and yet sly, devious, and cunning this one child elect performs. The child becomes hated because the other kids see the ulterior motives and live suppressed lives in the system. When Christians haven’t even tolerance for all others including other Christians, then we know that their brand of artificial favoritism is not in the least from God. Thanks again!
Thank you Nancy, your insight and reflections to this article are greatly appreciated!
Through your posts Holy Spirit has turned this conservative evangelical 180 degrees around. Keep chipping away at us with your Grace filled messages and many more will come to the freedom that Love alone can bring! Blessings Bro!
That is just so absolutely beautifully blessed!!!!
thank you……I have been following your articles, and sharing them on social media….You have a great way of simplifying the truth, cutting thru the twists and turns, then and retelling and relaying it to people in a way they can understand!!!!
Thank you so much Jim, so appreciate you reading and sharing my work! Doing the best I can and sure do value the encouragement! 🙂
As I’m writing this, tears are falling, tears of joy. You’ve described exactly how I’ve felt about our Christian religion for several decades. It’s the reason I haven’t attended church in over 25 years. So to read your words telling perfectly what is still in my heart, brought such joy, and hope, that someone else felt the same way and perhaps there is a chance for our “church” to become what it was intended to be. I’ve often commented about exactly this subject on the PCA FB page, but I get the impression that my ideas come across as too simplistic for most. But to me, that’s how it’s supposed to be. Love. Just love. If we could just focus on Jesus’s message of love, I think how glorious our world would be. Reading your article gives me inspiration to hope for that. Thank you so much for this wonderful piece!
Julie, thank you so much for reading and taking the time to share such an encouraging and uplifting comment! You are not alone!
Calvinism kills unconditional love. If I’m elect, and you’re damned, well then, God must love me more.
Ugh. Even your tab line is shameless, self-promoting virtue-signaling!
Your problem is that you have perverted the word “love.” Real love doesn’t affirm sin. Period. Agree with Jesus on what real love is then start over.
Here is what I believe Chris is saying, regarding sin and God’s UNCONDITIONAL love:
‘My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.’ 1John 2:1
Perhaps YOU could stand to ‘agree with Jesus on what real love is, then start over.’
“It’s the reason I haven’t attended church in over 25 years. ”
Uh, no, the reason is that you and the author aren’t Christians.
I am a little confused about your approach. What Is the purpose of Christianity?
Does Christian love imply that the Christian must accept all belief systems as truth and any activity as acceptable? Does everyone go to Paradise (Heaven) because there is no “Hell”? If there is a Hell, a good and loving God would not allow anyone to choose to go there? Does God have no expectations of us – good, bad, or indifferent is acceptable in his sight?
Galatians 5:19–21 indicates to me that everyone is not given a free pass.
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Grace and repentance notwithstanding.)
I’ve been a religious “none” since I was a teenager — after growing up in a conservative/Evangelical environment that preached nothing but hate/fear. Welcome to humanism, sir. It’s a scary road, dark at times, but far more intellectually and emotionally fulfilling than evangelical Christianity.
I don’t know if I’ll ever return to Christianity after having seen what you describe here ^^ throughout my childhood, but I absolutely resonate with your posts. Having Trump in the White House is a stark reminder of my childhood in the evangelical community. It is very painful and, indeed, dark. I would never wish that lifestyle on anyone.
Blessings to you. I would suggest joining an online MeetUp group to talk with fellow “humanists” about your experience — there appear to be many such communities popping up since the election of people who are questioning their faith.
All the comfort to you. Continue to seek the truth.