The promise of Christ is that all who labour and are heavy laden can receive rest. All who seek and search after God with their hearts will find Him. All who are lost, or downtrodden, or forgotten can be found in Him. Christ made a way for us - sinful, sinful us, to be crowned with glory, and clothed in his righteousness. I don’t know about you, but all this goodness sometimes makes me wonder - “what’s the catch?”
I used to wonder whether when this Jesus feller says “all who labour”, does he also mean me? I’m labouring, sure, I’m heavy laden, but why would he carry me? I’m not part of the ‘in-crowd’; I’m not special. Is it really true that even I, who is so far from ‘looking like Jesus’, who had never really heard of him before I turned 16, can search and find God himself? It seems scary to talk about ‘sin’ and ‘repentance’ and ‘grace’. It seems untrue that the promises of God could be fully and freely available.
Because they don’t always seem available. Communities of Christians, or the church, sometimes seek to protect what they have from ‘others’, to defend themselves from alternative points of view. They seek to retreat from a messy and complicated world. And it hurts, I know, these communities have certainly hurt me in the past. In several indirect, micro-aggressive ways, and several in-your-face, shameless ways, they made me feel like I didn’t belong. But Christian community also saved me, from myself as much as anything. My church family broke into the darkness of my life and shined the light of Jesus on my heart. As is the way with all human interaction; we are all broken and imperfect, but aren’t we also doing our best?
And despite all of this, I do genuinely believe that the church is God’s plan A, B, and C. I believe that the church is the body, and God is the head. I believe that a community of believers with Jesus at the centre is the best remedy for the pain of the world. I believe that the church is meant to be beautiful, and honouring, and accepting, and loving. I would die for the church, sure, but I live for her as well. I can think of one hundred times where I’ve said or done something that has made someone else feel rejected that I wish I could take back. I would never excuse those things, or sweep them under the rug. I apologise sincerely, I listen, and I change my behaviour. But I hope those moments wouldn’t lead you to give up on me entirely.
So in case nobody has said this to you, I’m sorry for the church. I’m sorry that we let you down. We are listening, tell us your story, tell us your heart, so that we can change. I love you, we love you, God loves you. Yes, you! The Father of all creation sent his son to die for YOU. And we may not see a perfect church in this life - in fact I’m willing to bet we won’t. But we have seen a perfect Jesus, a perfect sacrifice, and a perfect plan.
The church is like any family: human. We have made, are making, and will make mistakes, but we aren’t meant to be toxic, we are meant to be Jesus’ representatives. The church points us towards something greater: community with God himself. If you take anything away from what you’ve read, I hope it’s this:
God’s love is readily available for you. There is no catch.
Indy and Erin share the Our Church Too Christmas letter from them to you.
Erin reflects through poetry on why she stays with church and her hope for the future of the Church.