What if I told you that I met this beautiful girl in a store one day? One look was all it took? I got to know her, checked her out, tried to figure out what she was all about. I was so fascinated and so impressed that I didn’t want to leave the store without her. Even though I had some other things to do, I went back that same day to see her again. This time I was serious, so I put a deposit down on her and purchased my very own own Fender Jazz Bass. It wasn’t just any Fender, it was a 77 (a vintage year) and it was fretless (with a beautiful wood sound to each note). She was beautiful! Stunning! And now she was mine.
When ever I show that bass off I often say, “Isn’t she beautiful”? Most people that know the difference reply with a “Ya, she’s gorgeous”.
I often use that phrase when I talk about the church or church communities. She, the church, really is beautiful. There are so many wonderful things about her. She comes with some scars and her history has some messy parts to it, but when she is working right…there’s nothing like her.
We’ve been walking through our winter series at The Village called, DEEPER. We’ve been asking one main question: What can we do to deepen our relationship with God and the life Jesus compels us to live? We’ve responded with things like prayer, solitude, and reading scripture. Funny thing is that people tend to neglect to think about how being connected to a community whom we share our faith journey with is one of the essential aspects of growing or deepening our faith. Not just going to church, or the act of driving to a church building. Rather, being connected to a community of people with whom we can learn what it means to love God, love our neighbour and make our world better.
Why? Here are a few things to think about…
God thinks that two are better than one.
In Genesis we see a God who refers to himself as ‘community’. When creating humans (Gen 2), God says, “Let us make man in our image, our own likeness”. As God is about to create people to live in community, he lets us in on his DNA – he is even bigger that we can imagine. Theologians call this The Trinity. We can call it the first community. When God did create humans, he created them male & female. Two very different and diverse humans, however, they were intended to live in…community.
We jump to Ecclesiastes 4, that writer says this, “Two are better than one…” As we read God’s story, we notice that God’s intention was always for people to do life together, and not alone.
The are strings attached.
We often use this phrase to get ourselves out of responsibilities that come with commitment. “I’ll do it as long as there are no strings attached.” I want to tell you up front, when it comes to belonging to a (church) community, not only are our strings attached, our limbs are attached too. Paul, a NT writer, on many occasions refers to the church as a body (Ephesians 4, 1 Corinthians 12). Not just any body, but the body of Christ. When doing so he describes it’s members as being various and diverse parts of one body. As parts of a body then, we all differ in the way we contribute to the whole (both the church and the world). Paul also calls these gifts. Paul also says that at times, one body part will hurt and the other will feel the pain. When that happens we are to encourage the other person/part so that it feels ever more connected to the body. I’m so glad I’m invited to be part of something that intertwines and interconnects…and in that new body I’m a part of, I have the opportunity to give and to receive.
As beautiful as she is, she ain’t perfect.
You either don’t know about the church’s shady history or you choose to forget some of it is scarred. Many people today, for various reasons, are divorcing their desire to meet God from any connection to the form or structure of the church. They want God, they like Jesus, but they aren’t so sure of the church. Let’s be honest, we’re a broken bunch. Sometimes things have been done to us, other times we’ve done the wrong. But the truth is that we wouldn’t need God if we weren’t broken. That doesn’t excuse past behaviours, but it might explain a few things. One author says it like this, “The church is God between two thieves.” Please don’t chuck the whole thing out because of the church’s messiness. Don’t over look it either. But we can see the good, because there is lots of good. She really is beautiful.
Don’t stop gathering.
The writer of Hebrews (10:24-25) tells his readers ‘not to stop’ gathering together. To continue meeting together, and in their meeting together, to encourage one another towards love and good deeds.
There’s lots of reasons to stop gathering with the church. They had theirs in the first century, and we have ours in 2014. However, the reasons to stay connected are the same: Encourage each other to follow Jesus and inspire one another towards love and good deeds. Becoming a community of people who love God, love our neighbour and make the world better is still what Jesus invites us to become and belong to.
As we keep asking ourselves, what can we do to deepen our relationship with God and the life Jesus compels us to live? part of the answer will always be, ‘stay connected to a (church) community. Because only when we journey with others will we have the best opportunity to become who God is calling us to be. The church, she is beautiful, brokenness and all. Why, Because Jesus makes her that way. Jesus takes our brokenness and makes it beautiful.
Giant redwoods of Western US have relatively shallow roots. Normally, large trees couldn’t stand tall without deep roots. What compensates them? Their enormous weight is supported by the interlocking of the tree’s roots. Where other trees stand on their own, these trees stand together.
Two are better than one!