Thursday, January 8, 2015

Servants and Lovers

I read a blog tonight criticizing the church.  The author had a lot to say about what was wrong with his experience from the form of worship to the way he was treated.  He was choosing to walk away.

Valid.  It makes sense to leave what you don't like.  What has hurt you. 

I've been hurt by the church.

I've experienced her from the inside out.  Her various flavors. Her harsh conservatives and her easy going hipsters.  People in the church are mean, and angry, and prideful.

So are people outside the church. What sets us apart from the rest of the human race is not our perfection but our forgiven-ness. Our state of redemption.  Hypocrites exist in and out of the church.  The church works when we admit who we are.  Yes we are hypocrites.  Yes we are hurtful and broken people. Jesus heal us and make us different.  When we allow space for honesty, and truth, and put Christ in his rightful place as Boss and Father the church is the most beautiful, healing, and holy place to be.

It's easier sometimes to point fingers at problems than to get up, forgive the hurt, dust off and follow Christ back into the church and into the world it exists to serve.   If you and I can be a little better than the church we've left then we have a good thing going on.   If I can talk about a song you sing a certain way and what's wrong with that, then it's better than looking at how far I've drifted from how God loves people.  The problem is that you and I are not any better than the person we point a finger at who has hurt us.  I can't do more to save myself by liking to sing a song a certain way.  I obviously can't forgive people for hurting me the way I have been forgiven.  I am less like Christ and more like that hypocrite I want to criticize.  

We are only in the church because we are broken and need a Healer.  Those who leave  forget that as much as those who are in it. 

The church was the idea of Christ.  The idea of God.  He calls her his Bride, his lady, his love and talks about how he can't wait to pick her up and make it official.  He calls the Church his body and himself the Head of it.  He calls his church his children, and reminds us to call him Daddy.  He talks about how each one in the church is purposeful, meant to be, and placed exactly as he desired.

We forget on all extremes of arguments on our human level what God's heart is for his church. 

It's not about a building.  It's not about a form or function of worship.  The church is liturgical and solemn.  It is choirs and getting down on Sunday morning in Brooklyn.  It is hymn books and praise bands.  It is wooden pews and chairs in a school building or gym.  It is progressive and traditional.  It is all of those things and more because wherever the scripture and the gospel are, wherever Christ is loved, it's the church.  It's Spanish and English and French and Swahili and every language on earth.

It's people.

I love the church.  Not because she is perfect and always gets it right, but because God is in the business of changing hypocrites into lovers and servants one day at a time.   

We can become a room full of people pointing fingers at each other.

Or we can do what our God, our Dad, our Lover calls us to:

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Eph 4

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