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.
Your post made me think of a song by Derek Webb, do you know it? The Church, I think it is called. The chorus:ReplyDelete
‘cause i haven’t come for only you
but for my people to pursue
you cannot care for me with no regard for her
if you love me you will love the church
The church can be so, so beautiful at times!
I love that, Emily. So true.ReplyDelete
Emily, this is a great post. Recently, I have been dealing with this issue in our small town. A new "mega" church from a local town has built a satellite church, and their advertisement slogan is "Like Jesus, but not church?" This simple statement that I truly believe has good intentions has caused me a great deal of frustration.ReplyDelete
I, too, love the church, and all that it stands for. I love its beauty and its love. I love the joy I feel when I know I am in the Lord's house. I love the fellowship with other believers. I love the freedom to gather and worship. I love the traditions of the church. I love the singing of hymns and the teaching of the truth of God's Word. I do not need my church to be a light show, a circus, or an entertainment source. I have those in other areas of my life. I need my church to be the church that God intended it to be. I need my church to read the Epistles of Paul and remember what he taught us about our behavior in the church.
I know that this church had good intentions with their hurtful ad slogan. I know that they were trying to appeal to a group of people who might have been raised in a legalistic environment and need a little more freedom. But for those of us who serve in the church, we were insulted. We were hurt. And we were frustrated by this church that swept in and built a church where there are many other churches, a church that is less than 15 miles away from their source church, a church that seems to be taking people away from other churches rather than reaching out to the unchurched. We felt like it was an insult to the churches we have worked so hard to build. We felt like they were saying that no church in our small town is as good as our church because our church isn't like church. It is much more fun. It made our efforts seem much less important in comparison to their "awesome non-church services."
I love church, and I feel that every true believer should love church, too. If you believe that Paul wrote Hebrews, and you believe that he wrote it under God's authority, then every Christian must take into consideration what he says in chapter 10, verse 25 (NLT), "And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." We were instructed to stay faithful to church. It was not a request, or a suggestion. It was an instruction.
That is why, when I see someone advertising that it is okay if you don't like church, I get angry. Because it is not okay if you don't like church. Jesus told Peter, "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18, NKJV) The church was God's idea, not man's. If God built it, then we must love it.
Cindy, the words to that song you mentioned are great, "If you love Me you will love the church." We love the church because the church belongs to God, with all of its love and imperfections, all of its joys and flaws. The church is God's, and we must love what belongs to Him!