When Your Church No Longer Defines Who You Are

There’s this weirdness that comes from some Christians. Maybe I only notice it because I wasn’t raised around a church. If I’m honest, I still feel like I’m an outsider to Christian “culture.” I’m talking about being defined by “your” church as if a building with people in it could define every subtle, intricate piece of your soul.

There are Baptist churches, non-denominational churches, Presbyterian churches, and countless others; then there are Reformed churches, Armenian churches, and a mouthful of others that I will not get into. All of those churches believe in Jesus. They all believe that He is the son of God. They all believe that we cannot be saved without Him. Call me simple, but I just don’t understand splitting hairs; I don’t understand why we have to label and re-label the church as if it were tiny independent organisms instead of a body of believers. A body doesn’t act out against itself; it works together in harmony.

I don’t walk around saying, “I’m a Jenna, so infer that if you are also a Jenna, you love Jesus, have a family, are married, home school, raise chickens, love soup, fall asleep around midnight, and want to move to Alaska.

Seriously. I know that’s an over-exaggeration, but I feel that crazy culture weigh down on me sometimes. I feel this pressure to be a certain thing at a certain church and it has nothing to do with the Bible or Jesus. That is wrong. If labels define me, and life changes, then who am I? If God defines me, I am me wherever I go, whatever I do, no matter how things change, no matter what sins I’ve repented of, no matter how much money I made last year, no matter what struggles I am facing. That’s biblical.

Paul pleaded with the church in 1 Corinthians 1:10:

 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment .

     So I’m sitting here today, mulling over where we go when we no longer believe the labels. When we no longer want to be defined by our church, where do we turn? Abandoning church entirely is not the answer…there has to be a place outside of judgement where we can worship God, learn, and serve others. Certain individuals may refuse to be defined by their church, but are there churches who rebuke division and instead call for unity, for diversity, and for the Bible and God to define who we are and why we are valuable?

Then, I came across this:

And I believe … there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 1 Cor 18-20

Every time I feel like I’ve got something figured out, I realize I don’t. Isn’t that just like God to remind me that I do not understand? It’s more about serving Him than it is about being comfortable. It’s about being around the labels but refusing to be sucked in by them. It’s about following your own path in boldness, but also in humility and obedience.

What labels do you defy in your own community? Certainly, this is not just an issue in the church. How do people define you by your church, and do you hate or love this? I’d love to hear what you think about this!

**This post was originally published on 5/17/2015 on BlogHer.**


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