I would be judged by my good friends if they ever met my (often self-proclaimed) bad friends. I would be judged as I already am by the few where my two circles of acquaintances overlap. But, if it came down to it and I was forced to choose I would pick my bad friends over my good friends, mostly because they are real. They are real in that they can laugh at themselves, they don’t dance around elephants in rooms (I can talk to them about anything without being awkward), and they don’t judge me. They let me be who I am, and even though they may not come out and say it I know that they care. In a very real way they are my second family.
Sometimes in church I feel guilty for not evangelizing more, but my bad friends know where I stand. They know where I stand, and they respect it. I do the same for them. It’s funny, I feel guilty in church, and not with my “second family”; I feel more comfortable with the perverts and partiers than with the stained glass crowd. My “brothers and sisters in Christ” are less like siblings to me than the un-enlightened. I struggle with this contradiction. I wonder if I should feel guilty about my choice of bad over ‘good’, sinners over saints, real over masked or not. Jesus hung out with the ragamuffins and cursed the Pharisees. Right?
It’s not that I don’t love my Christian friends; it’s just that I identify with them less. It’s not that I hate the church; it’s just that I fit there less. I say a hearty amen to what Francis Chan says in this video: “The church is neither super nor natural.” I empathize with the ex-gangster he quotes in this book who when contrasting the church to the gang says “You see, in gangs we weren’t just nice to each other once a week–we were family.”
I crave community. I crave fellowship. I’ve tried to carve that out of the church. For years I’ve tried. I’ve been here long enough to know the inside jokes and laugh on cue, long enough to know some of the flaws people hide behind their greeting time smiles, long enough to know the pet peeves of the pastor and the Sunday school teachers. I can respond correctly to the once a year Easter greeting, but it so many ways I don’t really know the people. I met another wonderfully horrible friend about five weeks ago and I would already count him among my ten best friends. Judge that as you will.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to get stuck on writing about my problems with the church, or beat them to death because (a) I really do love her despite her many flaws, and (b) if I just write about the church I’m being as bad as the people I’m frustrated with. After all, we need to be the solution, not just talk on forever about the problem. Despite all that, I’ve written about the church’s lack of community this week. Call me a hypocrite. Call me horrible. I’ll probably agree.