This was supposed to be a super long post in response to a tricky question. A few weeks ago, I made a comment that even though I sometimes get frustrated with what I see as misaligned priorities among believers (particularly in this country), I still love the church.
One of my friends, who’s recently had some disillusioning experiences with people claiming to be Christians asked me to explain what I meant by that.
So I sat down at my laptop and started to write about the importance of corporate worship and the deep love that Jesus has for the church. I talked about the staggering number of times the New Testament talks about our faith in terms of community—the “one anothers” of the Bible (but really—check out the list). I even mentioned how living alongside other sinners is necessary and helpful, and why service—basically anytime we allow another Christian to inconvenience us—is important for our spiritual growth.
There were lots of bullet points and references and assorted true things…but something was missing. Sure, I appreciate all of those things, but it wasn’t a good answer to the actual question.
It’s kind of like if someone asked me why I love my twin sister. I could tell you all kinds of wonderful things about her—she’s strong and kind and dependable and deeply loyal in her love for God and others. I could name the things I enjoy doing with her—going on hikes or picking blueberries or playing board games. I could even describe what she’s done for me—intervening with superhuman common sense to keep me alive through childhood and adolescence, reminding me of the importance of budgeting and sending my parents birthday cards, challenging me to grow in my faith.
All of those things are true. None of them actually answer the question.
You see, I love my sister because she’s mine.
She’s family. There is nothing she could ever do to lose my love (or earn it, for that matter). I will always love her, no matter what, and it’s not because of all the—admittedly cool—things about her. I’d say the same for my parents and close friends and the jr. highers I mentor. It’s not about what they do for me, it’s about who they are.
Same with the church. It’s good to know some of the benefits of being part of a local church, or to understand why the global church matters, but that’s not why I love it.
I love the church because she’s mine. She’s family. I’ll never walk away from her, even when she’s frustrating. I’ll never give up on her, even if she breaks my heart. (more…)