Church. Say the word and you’ll get a cacophony of reactions. From the sound of a tweener screaming her lungs out a Hillsong concert to a barrage of cuss words not fit for a sailor’s ears. Why is the church so intriguing, yet so controversial? How has it continued to grow over the centuries yet seems to be dead at times? I don’t know. But, I do know this. I love church. I love going to it. I love receiving from it. I love wrestling with it. I love being a part of it.
That doesn’t mean that my church experience has always been rainbows and unicorns nor have I always had the best attitude about the church. To me, the relationship between a Christian and the church is kind of like a relationship between a child and their mother. The child loves and needs her. They think she is beautiful and they depend on her for everything. Sometimes, however, the child gets his priorities mixed up and the mom gets ignored or even rejected. No mom is perfect. Likewise, there are no perfect churches. However, the more the child leans into the mother for support, the more likely the mom will be able to meet their needs especially in the hard times.
Personally, the church has been there for me in ways that I can’t put into words. She has given me a safe harbor during the storm. She has also challenged me to shed my confused mindsets and embrace the God-reality of love. She embraced me and corrected me. She has accepted me and given me opportunity. More specifically, she helped me see the opportunity that was already in front of me.
Yes, I am talking about my home church, but I am also talking about the church as a whole. The bride of Christ. In moments unexpected and much needed, she has stepped in and welcomed me home. Broken and ashamed, she wrapped me up and helped me believe who I truly was in Christ.
My relationship with the church has been a journey of heartache and bliss. A journey I chose and also rejected. A journey that has brought me back to the Father’s heart again and again.
The funny thing is that church is made of humans just like me. Humans with the capacity to love like Jesus…or not. As well as the capacity to be loved in the “not” times. We all have those times. I believe this is why St. Paul’s desire for the church was for us to be…
“…like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” (Phil 2:1-3)
We all need each other. We need those who are strong to be strong when we are weak, and they need our strength when they struggle. No one is strong all the time because we are human. Even Jesus struggled when faced with the reality of His assignment. Yet, He endured for our sake.
Like kids who remind the adults not to take themselves so seriously, we need all of God’s children to remind us of all the different ways He loves us. To keep us from getting too far on one side that we forget why we were saved in the first place…freedom. He set us free so we could be free. And when we surround ourselves with others who have experienced that same freedom from sin and shame, we’ll find our shoulders become a little lighter and our steps a little more sure.