This week I had to sit and think about the Church. I wish I could say I was philosophically sitting back in a wingback armchair in front of a fire, but no, I was in Starbucks getting my sermon ready for Sunday (check out my Instagram post here). I love the Church. I always have. But I can understand why people sometimes fall out of love with her… But what am I saying? How can you fall out of love with something you are meant to be? Because the truth of the matter is, we are the Church.
If we love God, we become His body, and none of us was ever meant to exist as a lone toe, or a lopped off arm. So really, when we say we don’t love the Church, we are in fact saying, we don’t like ourselves. The Church is this beautiful conglomeration of people in the process of being sanctified. What this implies is that none of us is there yet, and so we make mistakes. So in truth, when we say the Church let us down, or the Church hurt us, what we are actually saying is that someONE hurt us. SomeONE imperfect. Because that is what we are. Imperfect representations of Christ’s love in this world. We will fall, we will make mistakes, we will sometimes hurt those we seek to love, and sometimes we will get it horribly wrong, but that should not be the reason you give up on the Church, on BEING the Church.
Jesus described the Church as His bride (Ephesians 5:25-32), His beloved. The One He chose to be a bearer of His truth and light to a world desperately in need of truth and light. And I still believe, like so many others that the Church indeed is the HOPE of the world. I would rather partner with Christ in being a hope bearer and take the risk that I may sometimes get it wrong than sit back and watch the world get darker because I did nothing.
I remember seeing my wife, Maya, walking down the aisle at our wedding. She was breathtaking. And I remember thinking that I could never love her more than I did at that moment. And you know what? I was wrong. Eight and a half years later, we know more about each other than we ever thought possible. There are morning’s when I wake up to bad breath and CRAZY hair, which I swear has a life of its own and seeks to attack me in my sleep (True Story…). We have loved each other incredibly well, and sometimes, incredibly badly. And yet, my love for her has only grown. Because when I look at her I see hope, and kindness, love, compassion and joy. I don’t see the arguments we’ve had, or the times I’ve been a man-pig (her words and mine). Because I actively seek to find healing for the times we’ve hurt each other, and so does she. And I feel the same way about the Church.
I can choose to keep focussing on hurts or hardships I have experienced in Church, but if I keep focussing on the hurts, I am missing an opportunity to place my focus on something so much greater: the incredible life-giving potential of the Bride of Christ. And the possibility of being a source of life, light, and love in a broken world.
I have seen people find healing, acceptance, grace and love in the Church. I have seen broken lives made whole. I have seen those who have suffered loss find comfort in the body. And I have seen broken relationships reconciled. And you know who made that possible? People saying, Here I am, use me… People surrendered to God. People who refuse anything to stand in their way as they make this world a little bit better each day.
So friends, if something has caused you to fall out of love with the Church, would you consider finding healing for that hurt, if not for your sake, then for the sake of the world? I don’t say this lightly. This takes openness and effort, and may mean having to trudge through waters you abandoned long ago, but in the same way Maya and I love each other more today, despite the hardships we have come through, I believe you can find yourself at a place where you fall more in love with the Church, with BEING the Church, than you have ever been.
See you on Sunday…