Right now we're in the middle of a sermon series called "Why I Love the Church." It's sparked some interesting discussions not just about why people love the church, but whether they love the church. And, because I can see both sides, I've listened, agreed when I felt the need and agreed, and have spent a great deal of time just thinking. While I haven't come up with anything mind blowing or different, I have come up with an answer that I think would surprise a lot of people.
Yes, I love the church.
Don't get me wrong, I agree that the church is broken (as much or sometimes more than the world), that there is a lot that needs to change, and that there are things that make me absolutely CRAZY, but still. I love the church. I love what the church stands for - love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, joy... I love what the church strives to be - open, honest, inclusive, passionate. I love that people love the church enough to fight for her when she's down, when she's stale, when she's broken. I love that the church is flawed, but still God's own. I love that the church, when it is honest with itself, realizes that it fails at the mission to bring God to the world more than it succeeds. I love that the church is nowhere near what it should be, but is trying, desperately, passionately, privately, to be more.
I do not love what the church has become - political, vengeful, angry, hurtful, exclusive, a poor representation of what God has intended.
But I can still see the church for what is coming tomorrow and where it can be tomorrow.
I was at a meeting on Tuesday night where one of the speakers talked about how you have to choose your attitude when you are faced with circumstances beyond what you could imagine. That is how I choose to see the church. I choose to see the church as something worth fighting for, worth believing in, worth loving. I choose to see the church as something good even when the world is bad, something right even when it does things wrong, something striving for God even when it seems like sin is creeping in all around.
I love the church - because in the church I see a reflection of me - always striving to be better, stronger, more than what I am today. Often failing, but still trying. And still needing people to believe in me, even when it seems like all my ugly spots are showing. I choose to love the church, to serve the church, and to believe that the church is changing - because we're bold enough to do so.