Guest post: Cracked, the Church isn’t the Problem I am

Today’s guest post comes from Troy McLaughlin. I have gotten to know him on twitter, and the comments on this blog. We even had a good phone conversation this morning. All in all, Troy is a guy with a heart for encouragement. He shared his response to my recent posts about depression. I love how practical he makes this. At the end, we are left withe the choice: are we going to choose grace?

***

As I read Aaron’s post “When its not enough” and Chad’s guest post “Church grow up”, I was saddened. Saddened that the very place of comfort and refuge is a place of misunderstanding and shame. All I could ask is why? Why is the very place where the hurting should go for help is no help at all? Why do we do this as a church? When Christ said the world would know us (the church) for the love we show one another? How does this work? Who’s fault is it? It’s mine. No one else’s but mine. You can certainly include yourself here. If I’m not going to be part of the solution then I am the problem.

How do I, how do we as the church show true love one to another? Here’s some sobering facts. Read them these aren’t statistics they are people. Real people who suffer. Real people in pain. Real people in our church. Real people in our world. Real people dying every day.

  1. Nearly 26.2 percent of people (1 in four over the age of 18) suffer from a diagnosable mental illness in a year.
  2. When applied to the 2004 census,  that comes to  57.7 million people.
  3. Six percent suffer from serious mental illness: 1 in 17
  4. More than 90 percent of suicides are those who suffer from a mental illness

(Source: The Numbers Count: Mental Disorders in America)

Are these people worthy of the gospel are they worthy of Christ’s love?  Of course they are. He died for EVERYONE. Then they have to be worthy of my love. No excuses. No complaints. Just love. Period.

Lets do something about it. Remember Christ didn’t come into the world to condemn it but to save it. Stop condemning others. Stop turning the hurting away. Stop giving grace lite. There is no such thing. It’s grace or no grace. The gospel is not a board that we beat the world with. It’s the good news that can set people free. It’s to set everyone free. Period. No exceptions. Not one. Remember John 3:16 “For God so loved the WORLD,” that’s everyone, “that have gave His son”… But we forget the verse that follows this. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:17

Here are some practical steps:

  1. Get to know others, I mean really know them.
  2. Have a meal with a neighbor. People like to eat just ask.
  3. Welcome someone new in church. Say “hi” shake their hands. Learn their names. Learn their spouses names. Learn their kids names.
  4. Volunteer at a clinic that helps others. Hospitals, food kitchens, homeless shelters, aid clinics, even church. When we get to know others, truly know them our compassion for them grows.

Can you show true love to others?

Can you show true love to those who sit beside you in church even if you don’t understand them?

Can you get to know others?

I’m choosing grace and love because that is what Christ chose for me. I’m choosing to love others in the world and those who I sit beside each Sunday. I’m choosing to know others, yes really know them.

***

Troy McLaughlin

Troy McLaughlin is a truck driver by night,writer by day, and happily married father of three. He writes about the power of getting up and not giving up. You can find him on twitter.

  • i’ve been pondering this thing of choosing grace and love. it’s really profound and something i’m not quite sure why the Church has exiled it from its vocabulary.

    this is a beautiful reminder.

    • troy mc laughlin

      We are the church. It’s not the building denomination etc. Someone else doesn’t need to love or show grace. I do. Thanks Rachel for your thoughts.

  • Finally someone actually pointed out the real problem. People need to find a church to give to not just take.

    I like where you said, “People like to eat, just ask.”

    • troy mc laughlin

      The gospel is pretty simple. If we love one another as Christ said that’s it. Yes people like to eat. Thanks Josh.

  • Troy,
    Loved the honesty of this piece. The way you put it in terms all could understand. And I especially loved how you siphoned dignity into it. Everyone has value. We cannot agree with the world’s value system of people. If you have more you are worth more. If you do more, you are worth more. That is not God’s economy. We have worth because we are made in God’s image. We stand on level ground. Appreciate your post, Troy.

    • troy mc laughlin

      Thanks, Anne. I enjoyed how you described God’s economy and our worth. Yes we are all equal in Gods eyes. We are invaluable, so much so that He sent Jesus to die for everyone.

  • Luke

    So, I just started a really cool life guarding job for the summer, and pretty much the main thing I do (other than yell at rule-breakers) is scan the water for distressed swimmers.

    And after hours of doing that and then going to church the next day I thought, “People at church need to be like lifeguards. When you see a new person or someone who looks sad or struggling, you immediately jump in and help save them” …which in the church scenario would probably be start by inviting them to eat and hearing their whole story.

    • troy mc laughlin

      Luke great analogy. Hearing others story and sharing a meal is showing love to others. Thanks for commenting I enjoyed your thoughts.

  • kathunsworth

    Beautiful Post Troy, thank you for your words of grace, if more people got to know their neighbor’s and the people in their community maybe there would be less loneliness in the world.

    • troy mc laughlin

      Thanks Kath l appreciate your kind words. Yes getting to know our neighbors would solve a lot of problems.

  • These words resonated strongly with me, “the gospel is not a board that we beat the world with. It’s the good news that can set people free.” Amen. For far too long, it has been a board used to bludgeon others into the Kingdom of God, which is not a kingdom of punishment but one of love and grace. Only be being love, light, grace and hope for others can they be led to see the change in us and desire to be set free themselves. For “it’s grace or no grace” – all unearned, unmerited favour, not of works lest anyone should boast, but all gift. Thanks, Troy. Bless you 🙂

    • troy mc laughlin

      Thanks Joy, yes the gospel is not a board we beat others with. We’ve been shown such grace by God, that are only response should be to show that grace to others.

  • samcarter44

    Excellent, excellent post. I especially liked these words. “It’s grace or no grace.” When did the church stop believing that, or more correctly, when did people in the church stop believing that? For a long time, I wore my shield in church because I didn’t want people to know how badly I was hurting. Even though I’m in a much better church environment now, I still struggle with showing my weaknesses. Thanks for the post.

    • troy mc laughlin

      Thanks Sam i’m glad that it spoke to you. Yes the church is not the building it’s the people. If we can capture that and live out the grace God has shown us we will change the world.

  • Jennifer

    I am new to culuralsavage but reading “When it is not enough” and this post gave me chills. I am attending a church right now that is small. I hate the music, I don’t agree with everything from the pulpit but I still go. Why? There is at least one person there that cares about me. She asks about my family. She emails me during the week. She cares. I am hurting so much right now. I can’t be lost in the crowd. I need community. I hope I can get to the point where I can do for someone else what she is doing for me.

    • troy mc laughlin

      Jennifer that is what the body of Christ is. It’s not the building, program , music etc. Its the people. I’m so glad that this woman cares for you and shows you love. Continue to connect with her, and in the future I’m sure you’ll be able to show that love to others.

  • harrisco

    Troy – Thank you for speaking out about those two posts. I was moved by those messages as well. In fact, I actively hurt reading them because I felt the failure of real compassion where there ought to be compassion. It is the central business of Christians, so when it is not there, it really matters. It is like going to Krispy Kreme and not getting the donuts. ‘No donuts today?’ ‘No, not for you–but we can let you look briefly at these nice pictures of donuts… And you really do not need to eat donuts anyway, do you, with your obvious weight problem and all.’ ‘But I came for donuts. That guy got a donut.’ ‘I am the keeper of the donuts. I say you don’t get any.’ ‘What about that guy?’ ‘Come again?’ ‘Why does he get donuts and I don’t?’ ‘Jealousy is a sin.’ ‘I do not want his donut. I want one of my own.’ ‘Tsk. Tsk.’ ‘I see a donut in the picture. Now I really want one. That’s what I came in here for.’ ‘Well, maybe you would be happier and more comfortable in Dougie’s Donuts down on Broad Street.’ ‘I like this kind–and I am already in here.’ ‘You can get to Broad by turning out of the parking lot to the right, going down about half a mile…’ ‘You have donuts right there. Why do I have to go somewhere else?’ ‘You would be more comfortable.’ ‘I am perfectly comfortable here–except that I really want a donut.’ ‘You are holding up the line.’ ‘Give me my donut and I will go away.’ ‘Your attitude is showing.’ ‘It isn’t attitude. It is hunger.’ ‘I cannot help that.’ ‘Yes, you can.’ ‘I told you the way to Dougie’s.’ ‘I deserve a donut.’ ‘Tsk, tsk. Pride goeth before a fall.’ ‘I am leaving.’ ‘Is there anything else I can help you with?’ ‘Not unless it comes with a donut.’

    • troy mc laughlin

      Thanks for reading my post. As you say when compassion is not there it really matters. I hope I can live out a compassionate life with others. I know I’m wrecked but I can give even though I’m wrecked.

      I will choose compassion with action.

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