I have a problem: I hate the church.
I feel this is something that I try to sugarcoat at times. But when it comes down to it, there are few things I hate more than the institution of church.
What it has become.
The horrors it has perpetuated in the past.
The religious and intellectual slavery that it continues to promote.
The institutionalism. The elitism. The hypocrisy. The legalism. I can't stand any of it.
I hate the church.
On the flip side, I love the potential of the church.
The body of Christ.
People who follow Jesus. Who love God and love each other.
I love the idea of the body of believers. I love that we truly are the hands, feet, eyes, mouth, brain and heart of Jesus on the Earth.
That as a believer you have the spirit of Jesus within you, and that connects you in a powerful and real way to all others who share that spirit.
Because of that connection, we are able to perform even greater miracles than the ones Jesus did before he was crucified. That we are charged with giving hope to those who are hopeless, loving those who nobody else does, bringing justice, grace and light into a world that is absolute darkness.
To reject the body (the believers) is to reject the head (Jesus).
I can't, and I won't.
I love the body of Christ.
But it seems to be so rarely that the two (the church and the body of Christ) are the same thing. It's as if there are some small parts of the body of Christ hiding within the church. As if the church has been infiltrated, but not overcome.
I know that as people we are imperfect. But I am tired of making excuses for the church.
To myself. To others.
I am tired of seeing the same things that have no business occurring in the church happen over and over again.
I hate that the world looks for the body of Christ, sees the church, and turns away from God.
Sometimes I feel like I'm going to explode because of it.
I just want to scream out, "No this isn't what we're supposed to do! This isn't what God is about! Please don't let them ruin it for you. Jesus is NOT a part of THAT!"
Maybe you feel the same at times. Maybe you feel that same frustration, discontent, and desire to release people from the oppression.
But why would your words & actions as small as they are, overcome the much larger voice & actions that confirm exactly what people fear? That they are going to be judged, hated, ridiculed, turned away and talked about once they leave.
How do you let people realize that the cross the church demands you carry is heavy and unmanageable; yet the load Jesus offers us really is light?
How do we convince people that we're not going to attach a giant boulder around their neck and force them to carry something we're unable to carry ourselves? Especially if we go and do that very thing.
Maybe I'm alone in this. Maybe you don't have the same love/hate paradox ripping inside of you.
But if you do, what do you do with it?