The building & the people, even without a steeple.
It’s messy and magnificent. It’s far from perfect.
When we moved to “the ranch” finding our way back to the community of believers we considered family was a delight, despite the distance. We drove two vehicles an hour away just to cart up to 15 people for a day of worship, and let me tell you it was a feat.
Every car ride required great tactical planning on a white board. Yes, literally on a white board. Sundays meant that and more.
Hmmm, G will hurt O or C, but not older J or K. K is really good with G. OK, they sit together. O will hurt C, who can’t defend herself so he needs to be here, next to J but J does not want to sit there and… ad infinitum it went with every car trip, even for school pick ups.
The church we drove to was one we’d attended for just over a year. When we first arrived, we were a mess. We were fresh out of a painful church departure that brought on a lot of hurt. We had fought for truth and change until we could do more and the destructiveness was clear. In the end, we believe our time was done and God released us to find a new church home.
Our family, of seven at this time, soaked up the newness, the kindness, the truth & the love in that first day inside this new building, a new family.
A couple years later, we were definitely a big mess when our clan of eleven to fifteen broken people arrived with an array of dispositions, ages, colors and languages. We were welcomed by those who knew, those who cared, and those who were willing to share a hug, a smile & a prayer.
Today, we’re still a mess.
A beautiful mess among a whole bunch of other broken & messy people. Since we came home from the ranch, there are now fewer who walk in those doors with me. Regardless of the dynamics of our family, the state of our lives or the condition of our hearts, when we make it through those church doors I feel like I’m home.
Home – a place you enjoy coming to after a long day, the place where you can be yourself and let down a little, the place where family lives and breathes life together and the place where relationships are tested and tried.
Church should be like home, but too often it isn’t. What if it was?
Church – a place we enjoy coming to after a long day, a place where we can be ourselves & let the guards down, a place where family lives & breathes life together and where relationships are tested, tried & purified.
It could be that way, I think. At least, more than it is now.
- If we saw the people of the church the way God does, as messy imperfect individuals, like ourselves, in need of a perfect God.
- If we relied on God’s approval and not that of the other person with the new dress, the new baby, the sweet car, the plethora of friends or that “high” position.
- If we could receive His work in our lives, and it was enough rather than depend on the work of others.
- If we gave the same grace to others that our God offers them, and us, day after day.
- If we realized that we are all part of one large body, and the head is Christ.
- If we believed it was worth the effort to be authentic and share what’s really on our hearts.
- If we believed our offenses could be left at the cross of Christ instead of the carrying them ourselves, then unfairly sharing them.
- If we believed we were loved by God despite the lack of love that others might show to us.
[clickToTweet tweet=”What if we lived in such a way that Christ’s presence was evident in our lives, wherever we were?” quote=”What if we lived in such a way that Christ’s presence was evident in our lives, wherever we were? #messychurch”]What if we lived in such a way that Christ's presence was evident in our lives, wherever we were?
[tweetthis]What if we lived in such a way that Christ’s presence was evident in our lives, wherever we were?[/tweetthis]
As much as I want to enjoy the feeling of home here on earth, the truth is that it will always pale in comparison to our future home with Christ. Our souls groan for a home that is not ours yet. We want it now and it’s easy to put that expectation on others and especially the church of God.
The church we left was messy, but it was no longer the temporary home of fellowship for us. I had to grieve the loss on many levels. Then God brought us to a new messy church, but it was healthier too.
Regardless of what church gathering we call home, we are still passing through a place that is not our true home. I pray we can be messy together in way that looks towards home and leads others there too.