I’ve noticed a trend when thumbing through my social media feed. Get ready… Everyone has an opinion on just about everything. There, I know, deep world-shaking revelation! This trend seems to be even more apparent in Christian circles. Today, it appears like the church is known much more for what it’s for or against. We’ve all heard this before, but what do we do about it?
I’ve seen some pretty heavy debates about the church. Generally, they revolve around doctrinal differences and other random semi-important stuff like what is going to be this month’s seasonal flavor in the coffee shop. But, in all seriousness, what is wrong with the church?
Let me throw in my two cents.
I think the church has forgotten who she is and how important that is.
The church is the physical hands and feet of Christ to a broken world. Made up of Christ followers from many different backgrounds, geographic locations, cultures, and regions, she is designed to be a mirror for the world to see the love God has for the world through the Gospel of his Son.
To the core of my being, I think the problem with the church is she has forgotten how to love. Much of what the church calls love is really just kindness dress-up for Sunday morning and many Christians have been fooled into calling this Sunday morning kindness love. Kindness wears a smile, shakes hands, and does good deeds, but love sacrifices for others, endures when times get tough, keeps no record of wrongs when sinned against, and always perseveres when the odds seem against it.
Sunday Morning Kindness
The thing about love is, it’s difficult. Loving someone doesn’t always come as a light-fuzzy feeling with rainbows. Sometimes it comes in the form of a dirt covered, lying, a bad decision maker calling you at 3 in the morning. Love pulls us and calls us to more. Love is dirty, difficult, and beautiful…all at the same time.
Love looks into the eyes of a bad decision maker and speaks wisdom and hope. It offers grace to those who sin against us and it encourages those who are in the muck of brokenness. It cries with those who shed tears and it laughs in the small victories of our fellow man. It always finds the hope in the darkness and when hope can’t be seen it speaks it into existence. It bears all things, because love is strong, and it endures all things, because love never fails.
I sincerely believe that the one thing God wants for his church to remember and relearn is how to love as he loves.
Calling Love Kindness
We can’t continue to call kindness, love. It just is not the same. While kindness is a beautiful and necessary characteristic to have, it does not have the endurance love has.
The ones who choose to travel down this road of love find it is met with much difficulty but greater rewards. For when we are truly living out the characteristics of love, we see the face of God in those on the receiving end. That changes us and in turn changes those around us—sometimes much more than hearing a few songs and a sermon once a week.
So what’s wrong with the church? A lot, but in the scope of eternity, a lot that doesn’t really matter. She is greatly loved so she can show that very love to the broken around her. Relearning the art of sacrificial, grace covered, enduring love is the key.
What People Remember
People don’t remember songs, sermons, services, programs or marketing lingo… They remember how they feel.
Some feel kindness and that’s nice so they stick around, but then, every so often, there are the ones who feel love and its perseverance, its depth and honesty.
They feel the trustworthiness of it and it changes them to the core. Love is attractive and it changes people. It doesn’t just make them feel good, it literally changes them because true love has a Source. When people meet the Source of love himself through one of his followers, they leave changed.
So let’s relearn how to love with the love of Christ and not just make that a “Christianese” saying any longer. It’s a long, difficult road, but one worth the many steps required to walk it.
May you find love my friends and, in turn, give it away.