What should church be like?
The answer seems both simple and impossible.
Simple when we think about the big picture. A place where Christians gather to worship God, to encourage one another, and to grow.
A place where those who do not know God can come and learn. They can experience his glory and his grace through the people who are there, finding peace and safety and forgiveness.
A place where people take care of one another. When needs are discovered, everyone pitches in lending a hand. When new life springs forth, they help the overtired and offer gifts of impossibly small pajamas.
When life ends, they are there to comfort and console. To grieve hand in hand. To help as we stumble through the dark.
When tough decisions are faced, the church is an ear, ready to sit patiently and listen. To hear both sides of the story. To understand the difficulty in making the right decision. To wait, without expectation, as the correct decision is finally made, even though we knew it was the right one from the very beginning.
The church is there to help men become better husbands and fathers. To sharpen each other to be better servants to all. And when infidelity happens, to help as that difficult road is traveled.
The church is there to help women love their husbands, a seemingly impossible task given the nature of such men.
It is a place where grace is not only taught, but lived. Second chances are given. Barriers destroyed.
Love is handed out like a vitamin that gives life to the soul, but tastes as sweet as apple pie.
Lives transformed, not into suit-wearing, non-cussing, Bible-reading, Fireproof-watching good people, but into followers of Jesus. Souls set free from guilt and sin, free to live out whom they were created to be.
And impossible because it seems that these things are too difficult. Our selfishness too selfish. Our convictions too strong. Our traditions too old.
Can I really help someone who does not interpret Revelation the same as me? Can I really help someone in those clothes covered in tattoos. Can I really help someone dressed in a suit? Can I really love that person since I believe that they are wrong?
So we define church more superficially. It meets on Sunday. There is singing and preaching. People dress up. Theologies are laid out like medical texts. Often there is a sharp, pointy thing on the top of the building. These qualifications are easier to define.
They are definitely easier to do.
The impossibilities, though, are based on categories that we have created. Ideas that we have elevated. Theologies that we love to cherish and emphasize. Perhaps not that much different than the way the Pharisees cherished God’s law, including the Ten Commandments.
Impossibilities that might disappear if we approached every aspect of church through the perspective of grace.
If we love each other just as God loves us, then what would church look like?
Share your best experience of church in the comments.