I am a Christian mutt.
What do I mean by this?
After being in the church for 29 years, I've had the opportunity to delve my feet into many versions of "church." I've gone to Bible-believing churches, Evangelical Free churches, I've had my doses of charismatic church, I've been in non-denominational church and
I have been immersed in liturgy.
I find the life and beauty of Christ in all these forms of worship.
If you've been around this thing long enough, I'm sure you've encountered the We vs Them conversations. I know I've heard it and I know I've proclaimed it: Why we are right by our version of worship and why they are wrong. When we entered our current church, my pastor counseled us with the wisest information I have ever heard about "denominations":
We are on a spiritual journey. Simply find the place that helps you to transform spiritually.
After being in the church for years, I had never heard that one, but it was freeing, especially being a mutt, such as me. I loved all the places I had been. I would never change a spot in my journey, but at that point in my journey, I also needed the freedom to find something different than I had experienced before to heal the wounds of my heart. I no longer wanted to enter into the us vs them church battle anymore. I wanted to be free to engage in my spiritual worship without feeling like I was saying my way was better than where I had come from or how my friends and family were worshipping.
So I love The Church. I've been hurt by The Church. I've hurt others by being in The Church. I've recognized that The Church is a beautiful, mystery that is larger than my imagination and it is needed. So as a lay person, I would like to share some things I've learned about The Church. This isn't meant to be a comprehensive, theological, finger-pointing or convicting post. It is simply to be a reminder of some of the beautiful purposes of The Church, as the body of Christ.
So here's what I've learned along the way:
- Church is not meant to be a spectator sport: Church is not simply a Sunday morning checking in and out of the "Christianity work card." Whether you attend a Sunday service or not, if you profess Christ you are part of His body and you are needed.
- We is needed, not just you: As Paul describes, the Church is made up of a body. A body has to interact with one another. We are meant to encourage and uplift each other in this journey. While of course there is an element to your spiritual journey that is between you and God there is also an element that connects us all together.
- There is power in The Church: That power has been seen throughout the ages in both good and bad ways. Let our generation be known for the good ways.
- Matthew 16:18-19 And I tell you that you are Peter,and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
- This is the mode that Christ has chosen to operate and move on this earth. He hasn't given up on The Church, have you?
- The Church is a family:
- Raising children helps me appreciate this truth so much more. My kids are night and day different from each other in personality. It means conflict arises. It means conflict needs to be worked through and they need to learn how to love each other through their differences. When my kids are in conflict I always point them to LOVE first, RELATIONSHIP second, the issue at hand last. This flips the situation upside down and instead of trying to fix the situation, they are learning to love first and why do they love because relationship is of upmost importance. If you are part of the church, you will get hurt and you will hurt. Why? Because the church is made up of human beings.
- As a family, we are also meant to be the family that sometimes this broken world incompletely provides:
- Mark 10: 29-30 No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.
- Along my journey, I have met many people whose biological family lives are broken in so many ways. However, our hearts were designed to receive proper love from our fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers. When this doesn't happen biologically, the church is designed to do it. If there is one take away from this entire post, this would be the one I would want everyone to get. It is a sacred privilege to be a part of the family of God: to be the loving arms, the shoulder to cry on, the hands to heal, the ears to listen. To be the family, the place of refuge for the brokenhearted, the orphans, the widows in their distress. This is our beautiful privilege.
- The Church is meant to be a BLESSING:
- Do you remember God's promise to Abraham? That all people would be blessed because of him? The church is the current lived out moving, breathing action of this. As this truth struck me, I've had to stop and consciously think about this. As I go out to the stores I get to be a blessing to the checkout person, to the restaurant server... I also get to be a blessing to my family as well. So often my eyes and time are me-focused, first. Recognizing that part of my role in bringing His Kingdom come, His Will be done is simply to bless others changes my tune and perspective in life.
So my prayer for this post is that it sparks your reImagination for the Church. It is so much more than I've listed here but I think there is value in stepping back and reevaluating our perspective on it. Some things you may know, some thoughts may be new and there may be other things that I didn't even touch on. But I'd encourage you to revitalize your heart, love and understanding for The Church.