‘I like your Christ,

I do not like your Christians.

Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.’

Mohandas Gandhi Indian political activist (1869-1948)

I hate this quote. I have always hated this quote. I probably will always hate this quote.

The reason I hate it is because it convicts me of how unlike Jesus I often am. Too often. The reason I don’t have a ‘fish’ symbol on my car is because I drive like a madman much of the time (although not in 30 or 40mph areas!) I lose my temper. I judge people when I have absolutely no right to do so. I lust. I swear like a trooper. I fear the future, the present and sometimes the past. I am so unlike my Christ.

And what’s worse I’m not alone. 60% of the least likeable, most unpleasant ten people I have ever met I have met in churches. What a crap advert we are.

Last Sunday was NOT one of those times. I went to church in the town where I became a Christian (Aberystwyth) but I didn’t go to the church that helped me come to faith. That church was big (500 people plus) and sometimes feels a little too successful. The church that Jesus left behind didn’t have a building, had a congregation in the tens not the hundreds, was persecuted and despised not middle-class, and had a philosophy of sharing everything amongst its struggling members.

St. Anne’s in Penparcau is a lot smaller than the first church and probably a lot poorer. And probably more like the church that Jesus left behind. The teaching was good, the worship music was good and the people were welcoming, friendly and sincere. It was a joy to be there.

I know the vicar and a few of the congregation. I was really pleased to see ’N’- a lady in her early forties who lost her beloved husband two years to a long battle against brain cancer. She, the vicar, many others and I had honestly believed that God would heal this lovely, gentle, very young, stunningly brave man and it was a blow when God didn’t answer our prayers in the way that we wanted him to.

You wouldn’t know it from the way that ‘N’ talks and acts. She was bloody devastated, she was angry with God and I don’t blame her. But over the two years since her husband died she has made her peace with God and accepted that we just can’t always understand his will and now says that she can see many, many ways in which God HAS answered her prayers.

She encouraged me beyond belief and she is now rebuilding her life as a mighty woman of prayer. She says that she often wakes in the night and feels burdened to pray for others.

This amazing woman is selling the house that she and her husband bought together. It went on the market and a young couple that really want the house because their parents live in the village came to view it but couldn’t afford it. That night the young widow listened for God, heard his voice and obeyed. She has reduced the price for them, taken it off the market until they’ve saved the deposit and told them they can have it as soon as they are married and can afford it! And at one point she said, ‘It’s amazing really. I’m looking for a job but money’s tight – and yet I’ve never given away so much.’ And then she gave me a contribution towards J10:10’s work in Uganda.

Some of the people that I have met through Church are amazing – you can see Jesus’ light, love, peace and joy shining out of them. ‘N’ and Andy the vicar are two of them and they really humbled and motivated me on Sunday.

Someone once said, ‘If you want to know about Christianity then don’t look at Christians – look at Jesus.’ Too often that’s true. But when you look at Jesus IN a Christian…..well that’s something very special. Believe me.