Saturday, October 2, 2010

What Good is the Church...Really?

Readers may glance at the title of this post and think: Well, we know she'll never say anything negative so that title is just a teaser. Or readers may say: How dare she even suggest there's something wrong with the church!

I guess I feel both ways. There is something wrong with the church, and there's nothing wrong with the church. I have times when I think about the church. A lot. Sometimes I shake my head at something bad that happens in the church. Sometimes I get misty-eyed about something good that happens in the church. A few things of both kinds have happened to me.

I've been the recipient of a minister's confession that he doesn't want a mentally ill person messing up the new white caddy that "his" church bought him. That made me sick to my stomach-literally.

I've known people who played church very nicely, and then went home and did despicable, evil things to their families.

In the past, church family from various churches have told me off, told me I'm weak, told me how to grieve, and told me I'm being punished by God because I've had two husband's with cancer.

I've seen a lot, too. I've seen manifestations from God that have mirror images performed by those who listen to Satan, and then attempt to imitate God's wonderful ways.

I've been told by a well-meaning 6th grade Sunday school teacher I'd go to hell if I kept chewing gum in church.

And folks who make it their business to check out how many times I showed up in church. Just punching a church time clock every Sunday appeared to be their criteria for good Christian living.

So the church isn't perfect. It holds swindlers and cheats, gossips and brow beaters among it's folds. Like most flocks of sheep, sometimes we don't smell so good.

But I've also seen a miracle healing or two. Or more.

And I've known sweet ladies who gave and gave and then gave some more and never asked for anything for themselves.

As a child I was ministered to by my pastor who sat t by my bedside, long into the night, reading a story book to me as I recovered from surgery.

And the pastor who talked to my late husband about things in heaven when hope was over for this world gave comfort like I'd never known before.

Then there was the family who'd lost a son too early in his life. They insisted on serving my family the funeral dinner when we were grieving our lost loved one. They knew what it was like. And they gave out of a heart of compassion.

How about all the Sunday school teachers who gave hugs and comfort? Who taught hope and Christ's love?

Oh boy, and the moms who made cookies and punch for VBS, and taught stories and made crafts. They loved it, though it wore them down.

I've seen people open their hearts and their checkbooks to help others, more times than I can count.

So what good is the church?

It shows love and hate.

Bitterness and compassion.

God's forgiveness and Satan's condemnation.

And all the things and emotions that make people bad, good, ugly, and holy.

And underneath it all, is Christ and His GRACE.

We only have to look at the church to see proof Christ is needed, and proof Christ was given. The church is a microcosm of the world's people.

Maybe the best thing about the church is this: it is an example of all things hoped for and all things covered by Jesus' grace.

It is an example of, and a history of, us.

1 Corinthians 12:25-26 (The Message)
The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don't, the parts we see and the parts we don't. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. You are Christ's body—that's who you are! You must never forget this...


Joanne Sher said...

What a powerful and wonderful and convicting post! So much truth in here. I hope many read this.

Laury said...

I can relate to what you're saying, Dee. I had an elder tell me Jim got hurt because of sin in his life, and him telling me this while looking at me through one good eye, the other glass. Church would be perfect without the people but then it wouldn't be church:) The good far outweighs the bad.

J Yoder said...

Excellent observations. We have had a rough time with "church" lately with a pastor who was basically stealing money from the church with his unwarranted expense account and then told Bob it was "justified" becaue he (the pastor) was one of the highest givers in the congregation... Over the years I was told I was wrong for: wearing pants to church (thanks goodness those days are gone!), having a flag hanging on my front porch on a Sunday, taking high school kids to a Christian rock concert (wasn't it Larry Norman who said "why should the devil have all the good music??), and drinking an occasional glass of wine... On the other hand, I have witnessed countless miracles, & heard wonderful testimonies -many involving those same teenagers that I took to hear the devil music.
"Church" has somehow turned into a lot of do's and don'ts dictated by particular demoninations. I truly beleive that if Paul of Tarsus walked into many churches today he would cry out that this in NOT what he had in mind when he planted all those new churches on his journeys.

dandelionfleur said...

Dee, excellent treatment of a tough subject. Over and over I'm amazed that God extended grace to a people mired in sin--even when they know better. But just as you write, then I see one act of real kindness and it melts my heart, and I think maybe there is hope for us because we were created in His image, and because He does extend that grace--and I'm infinitely grateful.

Rhonda Schrock said...

Oh. My. Word. I've seen you over on Faithwriter's and hadn't a clue that you were married to a relative!! So glad to meet you! Arlen can explain the family connections, but I'm following your blog now.

Waving and smiling...

Rhonda Schrock said...

To answer your question, no, I've not been active over there. It's so ironic that you may well have judged the challenge pieces I sent in last year, two of which made EC. Very cool to meet you and find out about our connection.

Sherri Ward said...

I'm just trying to catch up a bit on some blogging - both reading and writing, because I've done so little of both lately. This piece of yours brought tears! Thank you for your honesty!