I am noticing a trend, a trend that is growing as times grow weary, and that trend is the outcry of people who have experienced pain from the church or have experienced wrongdoing in the church.
Every time I hear such things, my heart simply breaks.
Not only am I heartbroken for the many people that believe the church is a bad place to be, I often wonder about the heart of God; the heart that aches when he sees His children leaving the very church He breathed into existence.
The church that He died.
The church He bled for.
The church He gave His everything for.
As we all know, the church is not just a building we go to on Sunday, but the church is a community of believers; a community that cries out together, rejoices together, mourns together, and prays together. The church is not just an institution that is recognized on tax forms, but rather the church is a diverse body of believers that are a family. A family that has been adopted by God and bought with a price.
That is the church; the church that is ever so loved by God.
And yet so many of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are retreating from the church due to reasons that are tender to them due to the wound still being fresh, but if I must be honest, I think the church has been projected in the wrong light.
Maybe it is due to our culture making the church seem perfect or maybe it’s because of our culture making the christian life seem glamorous, but there has been a trend where the church is viewed in the light of perfection rather than the lens of grace. Therefore, I think a reminder is needed; a gentle one that realizes our humanity.
The church isn’t perfect, for only Christ is perfect.
So many people have placed the church on the level of perfection, which is causing the mass exodus of people out of churches. Many depend on the church to solve their problems, and when problems aren’t solved, hearts are broken. Many depend on the church to give them answers, and when answers aren’t given, hearts are discouraged. Many depend on the church to only do what God can do, and when the church cannot do what God can do, the church is blamed.
And that’s not what God called the church to do, for only God is good at being God.
What God did call the church to do was to love as He loved, to forgive as He forgave, and to uplift each other as he uplifts us. Rather than give answers, the church is there to encourage even when an answer hasn’t been given yet. Rather than trying to fix a problem, the church is there to be in steadfast prayer as the solution rests in God’s hand. And most important, rather than trying to be God, the church is there to be a reminder of His faithfulness even in the moments that are the bleakest.
And yet along the way, that got mixed up.
The goal of the church is simple; to be a family, not a perfect family that boasts of perfection, but a family that uplifts His name. While God is perfect and forever glorified, we, His children, are not due to our flesh waging war with the spirit. However, the beauty of the church is that even in our imperfections, we can be vulnerable to such things due to us all being welcome at the table. Every one of us, regardless of our past failures and imperfections, are welcomed with open arms as we convene together. Whether that is at a dinner table, in the pews, or in a living room, the beauty of the church is the beauty of being loved and known as He loves us.
And the truth of the matter is that Christ still loves His church even today.
In fact, Christ adores His church, for we are His children that He has died for, ransomed, and bought for with a price.
Christ doesn’t expect us to be perfect, and He doesn’t expect us to rise to an expectation that he knows we will fail at, but what He does want is for us to be a family; a family that loves even through the bad moments and a family that celebrates in the good.
The church isn’t always going to be perfect,
The church isn’t always going to have the answers.
However, the beauty of the church that I so love is the community it brings, the fellowship it gives, and the love that it radiates.
And that is what Christ adores; His church that comes before the throne together hand in hand even when imperfections run deep.
If I had to say anything to those who have experienced hurt from the church, it would be that you are still family and we long for your return. The beauty of this family is that we reflect God’s love; the love that forgives, the love that is unconditional, and the love that listens.
So even if it has been months.
Even if it has been years,
And even if it has been decades,
You are welcome at the table where we yearn to mourn with you, rejoice with you, and heal with you, for we are a family walking towards Christ together in grace, for united we stand and united in love we shall forever be.