To put it bluntly -- I could do without church.
Ya know what I mean? I mean most of the biggest, most painful wounds in my entire life have come from trying to function in a church. I wish that everyone could just all get along and turn into the infamous Acts 2 congregation without all of the discussion and prayer and work and failing. You've gotta know what I mean. (please tell me you do!)
But somehow I keep coming back. Every Monday I quit church and by every Wednesday or so I can't wait to go back. (I don't mean the building neccessarily...I mean the community). Recently God has put His finger on the areas in my heart that are still angry and hard and critical and untrusting when it comes to church -- specifically church people -- (especially those leader-types).
God used a group of women in my Cross Current group to kindly speak truth to me and for me in prayer on this issue. I know God has brought freedom already. I feel lighter. And I liked church by Tuesday this week!
Still, I'm a word-picture person. I was needing a way to settle this feeling into words. I was reading "Searching for God Knows What" by Donald Miller (great, great author, by the way!) and found this paragraph on the very bottom of page 212:
"Religion is a big, beautiful, ugly thing. I read recently where Augustine said, 'The church is a whore and it is my mother.' And for reasons I don't understand, Jesus loves the church. And I suppose He loves the church with the same strength of character He displays in His love for me. Sometimes it is difficult to know which is the greater miracle."
And the light turns on.... If I have been Gomer and I am part of the Bride of Christ then we all fail like Gomer and God wants to teach me how to love His Bride as Hosea loved Gomer, as Christ loves the Church. I have known this mostly in an intellectual, good-girl kind of way. I am asking God to rekindle a pure, wild-woman kind of love for His Bride.
In the words of another Derek Webb song, "If you love Me, you will love my church." Let it be so, Father.
Much love to you,
ps. when I read the book of Hosea, I can almost hear God pacing back and forth and throwing His hands up in the air in anger and hurt from His Lover. But, because He is God, He can't resist going back and loving His Bride again and again. Amazing love....