I was able to take part in a night of prayer the beginning of this week, a live feed event where many others were gathered in groups, large and small, being led to pray for the same things. One thing was the Church.
Oh, the Church.
The difference, Church and church, has been lost on many, including those who are a part of one or both. Church: the body of Christ, the people who have turned to Jesus, live for Him, know Him in a personal way. church: a place some people go to (hopefully) learn about God.
All too often, the Church has been given an improper impression by the church.
I listened to my friends pray and I was at a loss of words. Perhaps because the previous call had taken so much out of me it made it hard to speak. Perhaps because I was trying to just figure out what to say because this has been on my mind for the past week.
But more than anything it was most likely because I had to seek forgiveness in my own heart for the times I had let the Church down. I could not pray for a call to action when I myself had been a misrepresentation, a hindrance.
Church does not have to be about the liturgical, the traditional, the non-traditional or the worry of not fitting into the group. We all fit into the one body, God’s Church. All our gifts work together for His good and His glory. We so often squelch those gifts with man-made lines or ordinances or stances that are just not biblical.
But here’s the truth:
We are all sinners.
We all need Jesus.
When we know Him, it is our job to reflect love to each other and for each other.
We lift up and support.
We don’t put requisites on help.
All too many times, church has looked like this:
We are all better now, we never have struggles.
I have enough Jesus and am comfortable right where I am.
I like this group okay, I don’t like this group, but I choose to love this group.
We scold and mock.
We tear down.
We require applications or run the gamut of justifications.
So church takes over the Church and we become discouraged, people turn away. However, I have been reminded over and over what good the Church has been doing, what glory has been shown by the hands and hearts and souls of those who are representing Christ in the small and in the big.
Organizations helping refugees and lost children and families with no water or medical care, people with little hope and just wanting love. Churches reaching across the lines of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and communities to invite, to love. Families supporting local causes and families. Individuals feeding one homeless or offering help to a neighbor.
We forget the good. We forget our true identity when there is so much out there, so much being shouted and accused and sometimes we get so fed up with what we see that we forget the bigger picture.
And it was not like I had grown critical of the Church or even the church, just felt a frustration, a lack of drive and restlessness. And I realized it started with me. It starts with how I represent my faith, my God, my family, my community. It starts with what I can do to make small changes, to give away myself more and let God move in me and through me. I am just as much responsible for the Church and what it does as those who I am sitting watching, waiting to make a move.
None of us can afford to just sit and wait. Until we can bleed like Christ, to be willing to pour out our all for others, to put ourselves last and everyone else first, to sacrifice everything for God’s work then we will never accomplish what we were made for. We were made to love, to give, to reflect Christ. We should do more than reflect; we should radiate. We are muck and clay thrown into the mire of our own self-righteousness, and God loves us anyway. How can we keep that secret? The world is ready to accept love from somewhere, anywhere; people are desperate for it.
If we are the Church, the body and the Bride, our souls sing of His unending love. Like a blushing bride, we cannot stop telling others about Him. And it’s not just “Jesus this” and “Jesus that” but our testimony of His saving grace coupled with our active faith and love for all.
So my prayer for the Church is unity and love- love that reaches beyond doors and lines and ideal situations to real people who want real, unfabricated love.
And honestly, who is not that person?