Thursday, October 20, 2011

Life + Church

Within the past three years I have seen a lot more conflict than every before in my life + church. Growing up, I was trained in an atmosphere of incredible enthusiasm for the gospel and raw humility that gave me a deep loyalty to church. I have always felt like an alumni to a famous school, where history and loyalty run equally deep. Church, however, has never been a place to live in spiritual optimism. Conflict is inevitable.

That's when you have to go back to your roots.

I was reading my daughter a book today about trees. It describes the root system as something that grounds you. My church experience, no matter how imperfect, grounds me. As an adult, I can look back and say, "Sure. Not everything was great. Not everything they did was right or perfect." But you know what I can't do? I can't  pull up all those roots. My church experience, all of the good and all of the less-than-perfect, is rooted.

You should know a good church when you go back to God's word in the midst of conflict. I am grateful that all my "spiritual DNA", like my friend Carolyn say, tells me to go back to those roots--right doctrine.

Right doctrine is inescapable when you run in to conflict. Youthful optimism says that all problems can and will be fully resolved. But over time, you know it just takes time. God's word tells us that true wisdom means you can live without complete resolution.

I started living with understanding less when I was 17 and my best friend and her family left our church family. I started living with less friends after my own church went through some difficult changes two years ago. And I am going to grieve but accept the loss of even more stability as the church organization I grew up in struggles.

This is not easy. My best friend suffered. I lost friends. And now I am seeing the pastor and his wife who married my in-laws, my own parents and then me and my husband have to leave the church where we all met. All I can do is sink my roots into God's word. Then I know I can learn to allow winds to blow and droughts to come because I know life + church is adding another ring of growth.

I love what these writers have to say here about church.
The Church is THE plan God has for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with the world.  There is no Plan B.  The Church is the Bride of Christ.  There is no second wife. The Church, these sinners we find in pews and chairs next to us on Sundays, they are the Church. These people you cannot stand because of their hypocrisy, their judgment, their rejection, THEY are the Bride of Christ.  Just like you and I in our hypocrisy, judgment, and rejection of them and of others are the Bride of Christ.
It is time we stopped being surprised by what we find inside these buildings.  These buildings ARE full of sinners.  These buildings ARE full of broken people.  These buildings ARE full of people who are just as desperately in need of a Savior as you or I.  It should come as no surprise, and yet we continue to use the brokenness of others as a reason to leave church*, as a reason to say, “I’m a Christ-follower, but I’m not a Christian,” or, “I’m a Christian, but I don’t go to church.”
The Church is not perfect, but it IS God’s perfect plan for sharing the Gospel with the world.  We can choose to enter into that identity as His Bride, aware of its brokenness, aware that Christ shows up in broken places, or we can continue to sow division, trying to separate ourselves from THOSE Christians.  But that does not change who the Church is.  The Church is not perfect, but it IS the Bride of Christ. -Haley


Rebekah said...

Nora, I thought this was excellent. Thank you for posting this. The quote is especially helpful right now. What an awesome reminder of who and what the Church is. Praying for you -- I know it must be a VERY difficult time for you and your family.

Sarah said...

Thanks for your recent post, for your shift in focus and for sharing them. Thanks for challenging me to think and look at things in my life from a different perspective. You have been and are a great friend. Just wish we lived closer so we could get coffee on a regular basis. You have always challenged me...and you continue to do some across the miles. Thanks!

Lambros Chicks said...

Great post Nora thanks for the truth and encouragement!