Here is why churches are sometimes full of cranky people: because churches are full of people who are trying to get closer to God. Often in trying to get closer to God, these folks are trying to be good, and trying to be moral, and trying to work hard. Basically, these are people who are trying to prove that they are holy enough to earn the favor of a holy God.
But we do not come to God by doing everything right. In fact, that is religion. That is not the gospel of Jesus.
Religion says “I am going to get to God through my own merit.” In other words, “I’ll get to God by doing things right.” When I don’t do things right, I will be cranky and I will try harder next time. Over and over, the cycle continues. It goes like this: try to be good, fail, feel shame, become cranky, try harder to be good. The gospel of Jesus says the only way to God is through Christ. The only way to get to God is to do it wrong and say, ‘Lord have mercy on me a sinner.’
See, when we come near to a perfect, holy God, we know we are unworthy. In fact, one of the ways you know you’re getting close to the real God (and not a god of my own making) is that you do actually feel your unworthiness. I know this is not popular, but it’s true. Jesus’ solution to our feelings of unworthiness was never to say to you and I, “try harder.” His solution was to say ‘I am the only way. Surrender, submit, repent, believe, receive.’
You cannot live the Christian life; you can’t, and neither can I. Jesus never asked us to live the Christian life. Jesus is the only one who can live the Christian life! The invitation of Jesus is not to try harder, it is to die. It is an exchanged life where Christ lives his life through me. Thankfully Christ has no problem living this life, so my role is to be a surrendered vessel.
This is why the scriptures say, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
May it be so.