Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Church

You hear a lot of bad about church, there is a lot of cynicism towards it, and some terrible things have been done and been justified with Jesus or the church. I’m not even a huge fan of calling whacko’s that hurt people in Jesus’ name Christians, I don’t think the problems are caused by Christians, it is caused by people who are under the false impression that they are Christians because they don’t truly understand what it means to follow Jesus. I also think that the church itself is misunderstood. We hear idioms like, “Going to church, being a member of a church, church parking lot, etc.” There is this underlying misunderstanding that the church is something like an organization or a building that people go to or something they are a part of. I say false to all these thoughts and want to share with you a real story of the church and why she is so beautiful. Often the bride of Christ has too much make up on and is dressed horribly, but in this instance she was a beautiful, modest, gentle lady, Christ’s bride for sure.

A friend of mine had a family member in the hospital under some pretty serious medical conditions. It happened suddenly so no one was prepared to face it or its implications. I got out of the gym last week and saw I had a couple new messages. Generally I don’t even listen to my messages, but just check my missed calls, but thankfully in this instance I checked my messages first. It was from one of my good friends called and said I need to get up to the hospital because my other friend’s Dad was in serious condition and it didn’t look good. I ran home and showered up, grabbed another friend and we rolled up to the hospital. Generally hospitals freak me out, they are reminders of sickness and death to me, so I just don’t like them. Something was different about this hospital though, it wasn’t the swanky cafeteria, furnishings, unique smell, polite staff, or nice parking garage, it had nothing to do with the hospital at all actually. I walked up to the room I was told to meet my friend in and to my surprise it was full. I swung open the door expecting that uncomfortable silence. Nope not here! The sweet sounds of humble prayers being lifted to Jesus were filling this room. All night I sat there amazed and watched people come and go, filling the room, crying out to the God of heaven on behalf of this family and man. Ever time there was an update a family member would come in the room and update us and we would stop our conversations and all pray together for whatever that specific thing called for.

We can’t really understand God’s timing or plan fully, but we must accept it and trust that His is best. God decided it was time to take my friend’s dad home, back to heaven. The family came out of the room full of different emotions that no one could probably get their heads around at the time, but at that time all anyone offered was love. Pure love, no agenda, no expectations, just love, the kind of love God created, this unadulterated, piercing love that can heal. Groups of people embraced the family members and just hugged them and let them cry on their shoulders for as long as they needed. I was involved in one of those hugs. I can’t tell you how it felt, to truly feel that love Christ was about, the love that God is and the kind He intends for us to experience, it is unreal. Love, Jesus, God, Christians, and most importantly the church came alive that night!

I don’t understand all the things that drive people’s cynicism and doubt of God, Jesus, and His church, but I do know that no matter what anyone thought about God that night, they saw something they wanted to be part of, they saw something stronger than anything they can imagine, they saw something beautiful. I saw the church that night, I was a part of the church that night, and I tell you what, that is BEAUTIFUL, that is ENTRANCING, that is INTOXICATING, that is exactly what God had in mind when He called for the church to be a body. Forget the programs, budgets, Sunday schools, advertising campaigns, money, buildings, and fancy titles, those are expressions of the church. The church is found in things like this. I saw the church and she was beautiful. I was way out of my league there. All the theology and formal education you can get cannot and will never compare to an actual face to face encounter with the church. That night she was beautiful and could silence any cynicism or negative tensions anyone could offer up. I was so unworthy of being a part of that, but that’s the cool thing, God uses a bunch of broken pieces (people) and makes them into a beautiful picture of His glory, it’s like a wicked gnarly stained glass window.

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