why i love the church*
*ps: when i use the word ‘church’ i mean, people gathered together in some way, shape or form to learn & practice the ways of Jesus & pass on love, hope, mercy, justice, and healing in a broken, weird world.
i am leaving today for washington DC for the transFORM east coast gathering. this is one event i’m really happy to be part of because it is focused on something that i care deeply about–people who are interested in cultivating incarnational communities in all kinds of creative ways. as much as i am annoyed with “the church” (as in the system, the institution, the so-far-from-the-values-of-the-kingdom-versions), i really do still believe in God’s people gathered together in some way, shape or from to learn & practice & pass on love, hope, mercy, justice, and healing.
in the spirit of the next few days & all-things-church, i needed to remind myself–why do i love it still? why am i still in? why do i pour my life & time & heart & energy into it even though the cost is so high & the pay is so bad? why do i put myself out there and make myself vulnerable and say nutty things on this blog which some people use against me? why do i beg and plead for people to wake up & come alive & find freedom despite what “their church” may have taught them about what they’re allowed to dream & hope for & do & try?
because i love people. and people are the church. the reflection of Jesus here on earth comes not through more knowledge or more right belief. it comes through people. and people have the power–because God’s spirit & image is alive and well inside of them–to infuse the world with mercy, humility & justice.
so here’s my little list of why i love the church*:
- it’s messy & unpredictable. there’s never a dull moment, even though i keep praying for one.
- it’s a place to practice love in more than just theory.
- it’s a place to practice grace–giving and receiving it. i think they’re both equally hard to do. and good to do.
- it’s where we can get a glimpse of what Jesus meant when he said that the kingdom was possible now–as the least of these are loved and accepted. the notorious sinner welcomed freely. a cup of cold water shared.
- it gives us a chance to practice humility and find out how arrogant and rude we really can be, and learn to do better than that.
- it can restore dignity where it once was stripped.
- it provides a place to practice generosity–of spirit, of resources, of time, of love.
- it’s full of paradoxes–faith & doubt, beauty & ugly, hope & despair, fear & courage, joy & sorrow.
- it’s a place where everyone can have a voice & use their gifts & passions–regardless of money, talent, education, or a whole other slew of things that usually weed out people.
- it’s a place where everyone knows your name. and everyone’s glad you came.
- it’s a place where we don’t get graded, judged, or evaluated on what we know or don’t know.
- it’s always changing, morphing, moving, growing, expanding, shrinking, transforming, teaching. dying, resurrecting.
i know some of you might be saying: umm, that’s not like any church i’ve ever been part of. but my guess is that each one of us have and are part of little pockets of people who somehow, someway, reflect these things despite all the obstacles against it. that, my friends, is the church, the reflection of Jesus in the here and now.
it’s why i love it still. and why i still believe it can change the world.