I Heart the Church, part II

crowd

I have a confession. I love the Church!

So many people are talking about her with so much disdain. And it makes my heart break. She may be broken, but she is beautiful! And I love her!

I think the biggest problem is that we see her through our individualistic worldview. We see one person or a few people who do not reflect Christ and we turn and criticize the Body of Christ. Is that how we also treat ourselves?

mirror 1

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

When you look in the mirror, do you see all of your flaws? Do you have anxiety over your weight? Your hair? Your skin color? Do you tell yourself that you are fat, skinny, ugly, bald, hairy, or flabby?

What about those who love you? Do they notice those things? I think they see your beauty. They see your generosity. Your tenderness. Your kindness. They see your strength. Your persistence. Your fierce love. They see who you are to the depths of your spirit.

mirror 2

This is what I see when I look at the Church. I see her generosity. I see her tenderness. I see her kindness and her fierce love. I see her persistence in the midst of brutal rejection. I see her determination to love anyway.

I see when she gives up grocery money to help someone in need. I see her love the children that no one else will love. I see her welcome the one who has used up all their “free passes” with their biological family. I see her bind the wounds of those broken by a cold, bitter world.

I see her bleed and weep for those who have been cast aside. I have even seen her weep for me!

refugee-3

The Church is broken, but She is beautiful! She radiates the love of God to a broken world. She has been the tangible expression of the hand of God in my life. And in the lives of so many I know.

If you have been hurt by the Church, I hope you will take a chance on her once again. I hope you will see past the gray hair, the wrinkles, warts, and the broken places. I hope you will see into the depths of her soul. I hope you will see Christ shining through. I hope you will stick around long enough to experience her fierce love that changes everything it touches.

Come. See the beauty of the Bride of Christ. She is the only true witness to the glory of God.

flowers 5

 

I Heart the Church!

heart lock

The Church is the people of God. The Church is called out to bear visible witness to the free gift of grace we have received through Jesus Christ (Beth Jones).

Our individualistic and gnostic society has convinced the [Western] Church that we are an invisible force. But we are not invisible. We are a witness; living witness that others can see. We live and move and have our being in this world…just like Jesus. He told His disciples that He would not take them out of this world. Instead, He would give them power to live in the world and bear witness.

crowd

The power we have been given is to bear witness to the free gift of grace.

Free. Gift. Grace.

We are not called to be witnesses of all that is bad, evil, critical, and negative. There is plenty of hopelessness in the world already. Instead, we are called to bring attention to hope, grace, and love. Jesus broke the rules of His day when He extended grace to everyone. We are witnesses of the same grace and hope.

In the same way that we are witnesses, we cannot be witnesses alone. The Church is One. It means the Church is not singular. It is plural. The word “Church” in the New Testament is a plural word, not singular. It more literally means “assembly”. And you cannot assemble by yourself.

crowd 2

So we are one, holy catholic [universal] and apostolic Church. Jesus prayed that the Church would be one as He and the Father are one. Our power and identity are rooted in our oneness; our unity. The New Testament uses this example: the hand cannot say to the rest of the body, “I don’t need you”. No, apart from the rest of the body, there is no power. Even worse, no life.

church pews

The same is true for us. Apart from the rest of the Church, we have no power and no life. No transformed life. You can know God and you can pray. You can even sense His presence. But it is only when we are united with the rest of the body (the Church) that we experience lasting power and transformation of our soul. We need to irritate one another and bump up against each other to round out our rough edges. We need to see ourselves reflected in the eyes of the rest of the Church to see where we need more grace. We simply need one another.

broken doll

It’s true that we, the Church, are broken. There is no such thing as a flawless Church. There never has been. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But even in our brokenness, the world needs us. It needs us to show that there is another way.

It needs us to show there is a perfect, heavenly Father that loves them. It needs us to display an alternative to the ugliness of the world by displaying beauty. It needs us to offer an alternative to racism by including all people. It needs us to counter loneliness by inviting them to the table. And it needs to negate the lies of the world with the truth of God’s sustaining grace.

cross

This Easter, I hope you will embrace the reality of the Resurrection by embracing the reality of the Church. Find a group of Believers to do life with. You can meet in a house. You can meet in a coffee shop. You can meet in a building with a cross hanging on it. But please, gather with the people of God and be the Church. Be a visible witness of all that is good and holy for the glory of God!

He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed!

 

Why the Resurrection Matters?

light-4

It was Christmas about three months ago. Here, in the West, we love Christmas. I mean…we LOOOOOVE Christmas! Trees, lights, presents galore! We have special music that dominates the radio waves for like two whole months!!! And then there’s cookies…

holiday-coffee-holidays-christmas

But here’s the deal…

Christmas, in the Christian faith, is not really that big of a deal. I know. You think I’m a heretic. It’s alright. But the story of Christmas and the birth of Christ takes up a seriously small portion of scripture. If we removed all the pages about the birth of Christ, it would probably go unnoticed.

But if we removed all the pages of scripture that talk about the Resurrection…our entire theology would fall apart.

broken

In the last century, we made baby Jesus and heaven the goal of Christianity. That’s a rather lame reason for Christ to come and die a humiliating, wretched death. Heaven is not the “goal”. Resurrection and transformation are the “goal”. God came and dwelt among us so that we would experience renewal, hope, freedom, and intimacy with Him.

In less than a week, we will gather and celebrate the most important experience of the Christian faith. We will celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I hope you will plan to gather with other believers and celebrate. Celebrate that God is making all things new, and experience freedom and hope that is found in Christ alone!

He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

flower-maki-mack-summer-flowers-53013