Not everybody has a great experience at church. Some people have been hurt by the Church. Some people have been rejected by the Church, God help us. Some people don’t feel supported at church or encouraged, they don’t feel like they’re a part. Instead of meeting Jesus at church, instead of finding his love and forgiveness, his acceptance and fellowship, they encounter cold shoulders and pain. Maybe you’ve experienced loneliness or rejection or other disconnects at church.
To some extent, we’re all to blame for stuff like that. We’re all broken in a million different ways.
There are people who believe in Jesus and love Jesus and want to follow Jesus, but they don’t want any part of Church. They see the Church or they experience Church and there’s no way they can believe such a sorry collection of sinners is related to Jesus.
Jesus prayed that his followers would all be one so the world would believe. To this day, one of the reasons people don’t believe in Jesus is that his Church is so divided, his body is so in conflict with itself.
Church can be boring. It can be irrelevant. Self-righteous. Worldly. I could go on. The Church has many weaknesses. But the Bible says, right now, we see things through a dark glass, we only see a poor reflection of things as in a cracked mirror. The Bible says we hope for what we don’t see yet. And, you know, the Church, for all its brokenness and failures, can look pretty good when it’s dressed up for worship on Sunday or serving food to the homeless on Thursday.
The first disciples of Jesus are sometimes portrayed in Scripture as blithering idiots. The first Church is painted as somewhat of a mess. That’s not only because they were sometimes blithering idiots and a mess, but also to remind us blithering idiots and faithless sinners that the Church in any age is never completely exactly the way Christ intends his Church to be. We always fall short.
But despite all that, despite all the problems in the Church, based on the words of Jesus in the Bible as well as our own experiences for more than two thousand years, the poor old Church knows, for better or worse, this is the form by which the risen Christ has chosen to be present in the world. We are the Body of Christ.
When we look at each other, we’re reminded that Jesus was never very picky about the people he hung out with. But the Body of Christ is where heaven and earth come together. Every time the Church gathers for worship or for a potluck or Bible study, every time the Church gets together to paint a house or build a school, we do all of that under the promise of our Lord that if just two or three show up in his name, he’ll be there.
Jesus had a body, you know. And he still does.