Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Church

I'll be the first to admit that I don't love church.

Most times, when I go to church, it's just something that I do... because that's what I'm supposed to do. And as much as I try to break free from these Christian obligations, this is one I don't feel good about neglecting.

While I can jump right in with the best of them and criticize the Church for all of the things it does wrong, all the ways it disappoints, all the ways it perpetuates stereotypes that I want nothing to do with... I can't avoid it. I can't want nothing to do with it.

My Church History professor told us at the beginning of the semester that her hope was that we would learn to fall in love with the Church. That we would learn to love the bride of Christ...

And ever since she said that...I know I can choose nothing but that. I must love the bride of Christ. I must choose to love the Church, even when I don't love church.

I've been thinking about church like relationships lately. I actually had a friend who felt pretty hurt by some stuff that went down in her church and I was talking to her about the pros and cons of leaving vs. staying. It was almost like talking to her about if she wanted to break up with her boyfriend or not.

Because, like people, no church is perfect. 
And, honestly, sometimes I forget that. Sometimes I expect it to be (who am I kidding? Most of the time I expect it to be...). When we realize that it's not... it's easy to want to leave. When we realize that we aren't getting as much out of this relationship as we wanted... it's easy to try and find somewhere else that will give us what we want. When we get hurt by something that happens, our defense goes up.  When we don't agree with something...we fight about it or we peace out. It's natural...

But it doesn't mean that we have to leave. It doesn't even mean that we should leave. It doesn't mean that we can't love the Church. It doesn't mean that there's nothing good that remains.

Like a relationship, we have to decide what matters. We can't expect or demand perfection (or what we think is perfection). I think it's valuable for us to determine what matters most to us, and what matters in the grand scheme of eternity. I think if we can find a church that we agree with the core values of, and if we can find a church that we truly trust the heart of the leaders (trusting/believing that they truly love Jesus while recognizing that they are sinful, imperfect people who may mess up from time to time)... then I think we're doing okay. There are some non-negotiable points, sure... but there are a lot of other things that we get hung up on that affect far more than they should.

I guess what I'm saying is that no matter our list of grievances toward the Church, no matter how much it feels like things never seem to be 'right'... Jesus still loves the Church. Throughout history, He has continued to love the Church, to bring about redemption, to keep it in existence.

I want to love church.
I want to love the Church like Jesus loves the Church.
I want to set aside my skepticism, my disappointment, my unrealistic expectations, my own notions of 'right' and 'wrong' and learn the fullness of what it means to love it well.

To not be divisive...
To not slander the Bride of Christ, whom I claim to love.

Jesus Christ...who died so that I might live, has claimed the Church.
I cannot deny it, ignore it, or reject it.
I must love it.

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