That is a heavy word for a lot of people.
But, back where I worship in the States, it's a word that I have come to love. Because it stopped referring to the building where we gathered each Sunday, but instead, each Sunday we were issued this blessing before we headed back out the doors for home, or wherever else life would take us:
"Now, go and BE the church."
Many "churches" hold so much connotation. A place that should be safe for all to gather, has hurt so many. It has held the broken, and instead of healing, has chosen to further bruise.
But, here is the place where the real misunderstanding happens...WE are the church. US, not the building. Not the physical place where we gather to worship. You and I that call each other Christ followers ARE the church.
So, those that have injured and hurt, those members of the church, they are just as broken as the ones walking in the door seeking refuge. I am just as broken as those seeking refuge.
And if we really understand this concept and are willing to walk it out, our church bodies, the ones where we gather and worship together, would look so different. We would walk humbly because we would know that we don't have it all together. We would embrace and love because we would know that is what we also need. We would live in a community of grace and authenticity, not afraid to address the sin in our lives because we know we are walking next to those who will encourage and pray and forgive easily. We would serve, not just for functions and events, but serve the ones who truly need because we would understand that serving is an opportunity to be Jesus to someone else.
"I've discovered that this journey is not about finding validation as a leader; it's not about our church. It's bigger than that. It's about putting hands and feet to the gospel--our hands and feet. It's about building bridges with those who won't come to us on Sunday, not as a project but because Jesus loves them and told us to. It's a dangerous journey that requires honesty and vulnerability. It's about the kingdom breaking through in all of our lives. It's about creating a place to belong before people are expected to behave or even believe. If the gospel is good news at all, then it's not just an idea to consider, a time slot on Sunday, or a task assigned to a select few--it's a life to live. And it's bigger than all of us." --Jen Hatmaker, Interrupted
We are the church. How is the kingdom breaking through in your life? How do you see "the church" walking out the love of Jesus in your community?