I think that a large number of believers feel like this. I also think that the truth is that most don't. They don't "get church". They don't feel like insiders. They don't even meet their own expectations for church.
One of the comments she made was very interesting to me:
I feel like I can be honest with my non-Christian friends, but I feel like if I really tell Christians what I really feel like, they’ll be uncomfortable.I suspect she's quite right. I suspect that nearly all believers don't feel like they can be completely honest and up front with their church friends. After all, their church friends get it and they don't. Their church friends are godly folks and they aren't. Their church friends never speak of doubt or temptation or struggles with sin. And, perhaps, the light begins to dawn? They don't feel comfortable speaking about it ... with you, either.
The church has a lot to commend it. First, it is biblical. It was established by God for God. It is commanded. "Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another" (Heb. 10:24-25). But it is also very beneficial. It promotes unity, spiritual growth, worship. It provides fellowship, a place where we can bear one another's burdens, a place to teach and be taught, to sharpen one another, to comfort one another. All well and good.
So ... what's wrong? Why is it that many think we have to revamp the Church or lose it? Why do so many feel like "I don't get it" and so few others know it? I suspect the answer is not simple. Part of it is that many, many churches have lost the notion of what church is supposed to be. A large number believe that church is intended to make converts. The Bible says it is intended to build believers. I think many churches have lost the notion of discipleship, part of the Great Commission that seems to be nearly lost today. (We aren't commanded "Go into all the world and make converts." We are commanded to make disciples ... and, oh, by the way, "teaching them all that I have commanded you.") I think there is a scarcity of churches (and, subsequently, Christians) that even know what worship is anymore.
I suspect, however, that the biggest problem is sin. Perhaps it's ignorant sin. Perhaps we aren't aware of it. Perhaps it's not intentional sin. But when we are commanded to "bear one another's burdens" (Gal. 6:2) and we don't, it's sin. When we are told "confess your sins one to another" (James 5:16) and we don't, it's sin. When the singular hallmark of being a Christian -- love for the brethren (John 13:35) -- is largely missing from the church, it's sin.
I understand Ruth's feelings. I share them. I know what it's like to walk into a church and no one notices. I know what it's like to even try to work your way into the church, to be "inside", and no one notices. I know what it feels like to look at all this "spiritual people" and think, "They get it, and I don't." But these are feelings, and I suspect that the truth is that these feelings are a lie. The problem isn't that they get it. The problem is that we are sinning, refusing to love, and we are not going to talk about it. Now, can we just sing a nice little ditty about how much we love God and get on with the pleasant sermon? Please?
As I said, I don't suppose it's a simple answer. Perhaps there are things the Ruths of Christianity ought to be doing. Perhaps there are things other Christians ought to be doing. Maybe not. But there are clear things that are wrong. Perhaps we -- individuals -- need to start with "I" and work on love and spread that around a bit. We ought to work on "bear one anothers burdens" and "confess your sins" and "love one another" and see ... just see if it makes a difference. I suspect that, at least for the individual who chooses to obey God this way, it will.