Let’s be honest. The church seems to have been getting a bad rap for quite some time. People looking from the outside in and sometimes even people from the inside seem to be ready to jump on every opportunity to cry foul. Ready to attack, ready to judge and criticize the church for a myriad of things from being hypocritical, false, fake, judgmental, holier-than-thou, and corrupt. I’m not here to get into a debate of where sin runs rampant or try to justify or to even talk away the problems inside the church. I cannot speak for the church as a whole.
But I can tell you of what church has been like for me this week.
Church grew hands and feet this week as fellow Christ followers poured out His love in many personal ways in my life. This church is not a building. It is not a crowd of cozy pew sitters. This church does not even worship in the same sanctuary on Sundays. This church is not bound by religious man made traditions. This church is an army of Christ followers who live what they say they believe. They are not perfect, and don’t claim to be. They seek and stumble and get up and search His truth again and again. They are not reaching out or serving to get a pat on the back or to be seen. They love behind the scenes and sacrifice where they can’t really gain anything. They love Jesus. They are not “spiritual or religious”. They are real and they are dedicated to make a difference in a broken world. His love for them compels them to act. They are not waiting for someone else to make the difference. They step up. This church is alive and reaches across the globe from Delafield in Wisconsin to the Southern tip of Africa and across denominations.
Some have taken the call for prayer for my Mom dying of cancer seriously – they are my prayer warriors. Some have encouraged on days when I needed it most. All have carried the burden. One jumped in her car and drove three hours to the nursing home making it possible for my kids and I to see my Mom face-to-face over the ocean and half a world away via Skype. Love grew hands when she tucked my Mom in just the way I would have. Voice messages. Text messages. Words of encouragement. Coffee. And even a few truffles :-)
*Just a few of the faces who are part of this story. Many more that are included...turns out that it is not that easy to find photos of undercover saints :-)
Silent prayers and loud pleas. Hugs. Selfless love. Church this week was when His Word was spoken; challenging me to consider if the driving force of my life was His Spirit or fear of the unknown? Music filled the sanctuary underlining that He is holy, that He has conquered all and that strength will come to those who wait upon the Lord. Healing for my soul.
*Photo credit to Westbrook Church
The outcome? A burden lifted. Refocus for human eyes that so easily search the storm instead of the rock solid Hope in the middle of it all. Answered prayers of spending precious moments with my Mom in cyberspace. The comfort of knowing we are not alone on this journey. Encouragement and joy beyond words to a woman bravely fighting cancer. Faith rekindled.
The problem is that we rarely read about this church, because the world is obsessed with scandal and disaster. So for all the bad publicity, the truth is that there are still people who love God and who sincerely try to serve Him and those around them in love. There are still people who refuse to claim they are perfect, but who celebrate their God who is. There are still people who bring His light into a very dark world. There are still people who break the world’s mold for Christ followers by keeping their eyes on Him. There are still people who refuse to live by the status quo but are a force for good in a cynical world.
I know it for a fact; I was loved so well by many of them just this week.