Viewpoint: If you’re going to church, live out its teachings

Kathryn Worrall | 2014 Reporter
Kathryn Worrall | 2014 Reporter
By Kat Worrall

Saturday night is full of debauchery — the fake ID gets her drinks at the restaurant. The drinks get the crude words flowing with his friends. His drunken alter-ego gives him confidence to hit on the girl at the bar and take her home. They wake up with a hangover, maybe even still drunk, but two hours later, they are on the fifth row of the Sunday service.

We all know someone like that.

Baylor University is a school full of proper Southern traditions — hold the door open for ladies, always say “ma’am,” and attend your Baptist, Catholic or Methodist church service every Sunday.

The lessons of good manners and respect that mothers and fathers instill in their children often remain when those children grow up and attend college, but as the children grow into young adults, the sincerity is sometimes left behind with the childhood spirit.

It seems the sincerity of religiously attending church every Sunday is gone, especially here at “Baptist Baylor.”

Some of the biggest “sinners” I know here at Baylor are also the most “religious” people. They haven’t missed a Sunday service all semester, lead Bible studies for their organization and caption their Instagram photos with Scripture. Yet when I see them Wednesday morning at class, their glazed eyes and Scruff’s hand stamp tell another story.

When I hear of how they treated their significant other, their drug dealers, or even witness their stumbling self at a bar 10 hours before church begins, I see a different story than the life they want to portray.

Before I continue, let me clarify — this is not for those who attend church every Sunday with a pure motive.

Plenty of people at Baylor fall into that category. They walk the Christian walk as best as they can. They positively influence others, read their Bible every day, serve others and attend church to grow in their own faith.

There are also those who attend a Sunday service with the guilt of the night before on their soul. They might fall under the category of the opening paragraph, but they are truly repentant.

They realize their mistakes and are there to ask for forgiveness and try to change their lifestyle. They are intentional with their faith despite their struggles.

Neither are these the focus of this column. This is not to offend them — not everyone at church is there for the wrong reasons.

I am not a saint. This is not a holier-than-thou opinion where I shove repentance and salvation at readers. Instead, I believe you should honestly live the life you truly practice — whether that is one of a true Christian who attends church each week out of a pure desire or of a believer who isn’t quite living on the straight and narrow road right now. If you’re somewhere in the middle, why not pick the positive side and make your religion authentic?

Church here at Baylor University is often a social event. It is good to be seen at church — people think better of you. You are assumed to be a good person because yes, you attend the 11:30 a.m. service each week.

Some have heard the phrase “going to church doesn’t make you any more of a Christian than standing in a garage makes you a car.”

Going to church won’t get you to heaven. You don’t get brownie points with God for attending church every Sunday, no matter how difficult it was to get out of bed with a hangover. Religion doesn’t save you — it’s more than that.

“I’m spiritual, but not religious.” Have you ever heard someone say that? These are the people who might believe in something, but don’t attend church weekly or even monthly. I believe many of Baylor’s students are the opposite — “I’m religious, but not spiritual.” Most people here can tell you about Noah’s ark, the parting of the Red Sea and quote John 3:16.

It’s easy to be religious at Baylor and know all of the right answers. It is a different thing to be spiritual and have a one-on-one relationship with God.

For anyone arguing with me saying, “How judgmental — everyone sins. Jesus loves the sinners too. Going to church is better than anything. They can still repent!” Well, of course they can. Jesus dined with sinners and often preferred their company to the self-proclaimed saints. And yes, maybe one monotonous church service can transform into a life-changing event and be the moment where someone truly repents and commits their life to God. Maybe a verse or phrase will pop into their head before they sin and help them resist. Maybe.

Everyone sins. Everyone makes mistakes. There’s a big difference between churchgoers who honestly repent and attempt to do better and churchgoers who sit throughout service, daydream about their bad decisions the night before and count down until lunchtime.

It is the lack of intentionality that isn’t right.

Some Southern values focus on being composed on the outside and sweeping any inner demons under the rug, and that has translated into people’s faith. Instead of pretending you are OK on the outside but being a hypocrite underneath, open up to the possibility. Honor church, re-examine your morals and then apply the changes to your life. Live the life you are already “living.”

When people don’t do this, they make a mockery of the entire institution. If I was curious about Christianity and saw some of these regular church attendees, I would run the opposite way. This is often a bad reputation Christians receive — the lack of intentionality — and in the end, God will not honor it. Isaiah 29:13 says: “The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.’”

I have no right to judge an intentionality of a person’s faith. That is for God to decide. I do believe, though, that instead of honoring a Christian upbringing and our Baptist university by attending church every Sunday with a wrong purpose, own up to your real life or change.

Be authentic with your faith. Use that hour and a half service as something meaningful, something that will, if you let it, change your life.

If you are not ready for that commitment, then be who you truly are. Be the Friday night bar super-star. Be the comedian with the foul mouth. Just don’t fake your religion. Stick to your true intentions, no matter how “Baylor Baptist” they may or may not be.

Kat Worrall is a junior journalism major from Roswell, N.M. She is a reporter for The Lariat.