"For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also Christ." 1 Corinthians 12:12
From a human perspective, the Church is a recipe for disaster, don't you think? Jesus saves us, gives us His Spirit through faith in Him, and then puts us right in the middle of--not a Bible study group of people who all like each other and have similar interests, or a support group where everyone has similar struggles--but a BODY, of forgiven people in various states of sanctification.
Jesus says that in this body there are to be no distinctions, regardless of totally different backgrounds, interests, opinions, and personalities--but just unification in the One Spirit He gives, and the message that saves us (the Gospel, see Philippians 1:27).
And then, Jesus says to make these strangers your family, teach each other to obey everything He taught us, and then go and do the same in the whole world (Matthew 28:18-20)!
If you've been around church for any length of time, then you know that this Church thing gets messy, as messy and complicated and broken as the people who comprise it.
But this is how I am thinking about the Church these days . . . and why I'm still all in.
The church is our lab for living out the Gospel, the message that God is at work in the world, has always been at work in the world, and intervened on our behalf in a very specific way in sending His Son, Jesus, for our rescue from self and sin.
The science is good, but you and your lab partners are new at making it work. We might understand it logically, but not practically yet. I know I'm supposed to forgive, but how in the world do I do it when faced with real hurt? I know I'm supposed to love, but this person really annoys me!
Occasionally things explode in your face. You rinse your burning eyes out and are tempted to get new lab partners, try a different lab, or just give up and study your science book in the safety of your own room (or maybe with just a few people that don't annoy you).
But in your room, you can't experience the beauty of how the science actually works. You have no opportunity to live out the grace you've experienced or see it extended to you.
The science and its Author are stunning, friend. And there's nothing more beautiful than seeing truth come alive as you live it among the mess. Things will continue to go awry in your inexperienced hands. Your lab coat with bear the stains of other's bumbling, and theirs yours. But these stains are just opportunities to extend and receive that beautiful grace again and again.
Are you in the lab, fully engaged in this Holy experiment called the Church? You'll know it if you're close enough to your other "lab partners" to have to endure their weaknesses, carry their burdens, forgive their sins, encourage their lack of faith--and have all those things done right back to you. You'll know it if you're being challenged about what's "yours"--your money, your family, your time, yourself in fact. You'll know it if you're experiencing the joy of strangers becoming family.
If you've got a stained lab coat, singed eyebrows, and a weary soul, look to Jesus and His Gospel--not your lab partners. Know that THIS place, in all it's dysfunction, is the place where you really see the Gospel lived and breathed (and I'm talking about real life lived together as a body, not just a meetin').
Back to the lab!
Back to the lab!