Say the word, “church,” out in the community and you’re likely to get a lot of different reactions. Some people love the church, but more and more I find people becoming suspicious of the church, frustrated by the church, and even angry at the church. And I can’t really say I blame them. I’m sure you’ve seen the news stories…some of you might even have experienced the ugly, judgmental, hurtful side of the church yourselves. If you have, I am so very sorry…you did not deserve what the church put you through.
The truth about the church is we are just as flawed, screwed up, broken, doubting, disillusioned, and traumatized as the rest of the world…we just don’t want to admit it. The truth about the church is we sometimes focus more on building our brand or keeping up our building than we do building the Beloved Community. The truth about the church is some of us have forgotten what following Jesus is really all about. We’ve made those outside the church a target for the church. People don’t need us to evangelize them…they need us to love them…to offer them grace, mercy, and belonging.
The truth about the church is our table needs to be big enough for everybody. Black or white, rich or poor, young or old, gay or straight, addict or ex-con…there has to be a seat for everyone. Jesus made room for everyone…so should we. The truth about the church is the only label that matters is the one that says, “Child of God”…and we all wear it. The world doesn’t get to define you…God does…and God says, “You are mine, you are loved, and nothing can ever separate us.”
The truth about the church is it is full of human becomings…people like you and me. It will be friendly if we are friendly. It will be loving if we are loving. It will be generous if we are generous. The pews will be full if we invite people to fill them and then welcome them in. Grace will be found when we offer it. The truth about the church is it isn’t a building or a place…it’s you and me…and we are beautifully and wonderfully made…so, let’s go out and show the world the real truth about the church.