The mention of the word “church” makes some (including some of my dearest and most precious friends) feel like this:
When I say, “I get this feeling,” those are not light words with no experience behind them.
I know the imperfection of church.
I AM the imperfection of church.
I have been kicked out of Bible Study (many, many years ago), had places of ministry that were precious to me end (much more recently), and had to repent and apologize more times than I can count in relationships in church.
But in spite of all this, or because of all this, I still believe emphatically in the local church.
I often say that the governing verse of Brighten A Corner is Zephaniah 3:9, “For then I will give the peoples purified lips, That all of them may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him shoulder to shoulder.” It does not say denomination to denomination OR congregation to congregation, but it says clearly shoulder to shoulder.
The UNIVERSAL church–Christian to Christian–is supposed to be linked together through a love for Jesus. This Universal Church is often–I TOTALLY get this and I AM this–a horrible example because many are passionate about and focused on many things, and we often come to radically different conclusions on these subjects.
I have said many times, “How can people call themselves Christian and believe _________________.” You can fill in the blank.
relatively certain people have said the same thing about me.
I desperately want all of us to learn to connect the dots in life. For a Christian that means connecting the dots of the Bible to the dots of our lives. For all of us it means connecting the dots of our decisions to the dots of our results.
And it is through church that I overcome my natural tendency to be harsh and slowly learn to connect the dots of truth and the dots of grace.
It begins with extending grace to the church I attend, the people in it and the people who lead it. Church puts into the rhythm of my life the willingness to show up once a week and say, “Okay God, what do you have for me?”
My part is to be open and show up.
Recently I have reenergized my desire to honor the sabbath. The Fourth Commandment in Exodus says: Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. What I realize as I study this in the Bible and what I am trying to practice is two things…to remember the sabbath means what I do on the sabbath matters. Also, and possibly more importantly, what I do to prepare for sabbath matters.
For those of you struggling for balance, who always feel too busy, I ask you: Do you go to church regularly? If yes, and you still struggle, I exhort you to shift perspective and begin to honor the sabbath. It will help you find peace.
It will set you on the path to abundance.
NOT BECAUSE church people are perfect and every pastor without flaw. That is never. going. to. happen. Yes, church can be one of the loneliest places on the face of the planet, when we are spending our time at church looking around. But if you set aside all the imperfection and show up weekly to say, “God, what do YOU have to teach me today?” Life. Can. Change.
Hard edges can be knocked off. Connections can be found. Peace will come closer.
Perhaps you will have to do an extra load of laundry on Saturday. Maybe you will have to plan your meals a bit better, so that gathering is possible.
Join me in this quest?
I believe in the local church because I believe it is what God has created for me. And because I believe my children’s lives will be richer if they are part of it as well. And because I believe the only way to a life that doesn’t feel spun-crazy-out-of-control is to anchor that life with a holy sabbath built around family, friends, food, fun (we are trying to spend lots of this time outside with our kids) and, YES, church.