Friday, September 12, 2008

the church

The Church is a complex animal. We have people of all shapes and sizes. Represented in the Church are a wide variety of beliefs and views.

I was hanging out with a friend the other day who struggles with the idea of women in leadership in the church. But what was so amazing was that this friend was willing to stay in our community during the struggle. Many would just look at our church, see that women make up part of the leadership, and declare us heretical. Even though my friend disagrees with how we do things, the desire to be a part of this community is stronger than the disagreement.

In the worldwide Church, we have gay Episcopal ministers and those who believe homosexuality is sin. We have women pastors and those who believe women teaching men is unbiblical. We have those who believe in predestination and those who lean more toward free will. We have Catholics and Protestants, Orthodox and Coptic. We are a mosaic of ideas and methods all united by the belief in Jesus as our Messiah.

If you take our Presidential candidates seriously, then what we have in this election is not just conservative vs. liberal or Republican vs. Democrat. What we have is one member of the Church competing against another member of the Church to get elected. McCain is an Episcopalian who goes to a Baptist church. Palin is an evangelical who goes to a non-denominational church. Obama is from an African-American United Church of Christ. And Biden is a devout Catholic.

So whether we want to admit it or not, all the candidates are a representation of the Church. If McCain wins and brings "reform," he will do so as a part of the Church. If Obama wins and brings "change," he will do so as a part of the Church.

We are a mixed bag. We have sinners and saints, hypocrites and holy ones. It seems we often disagree more than we agree. But what we do agree on is what matters in the end. Jesus, above all else, is where our loyalties are. Jesus is Lord and we are His Church. Our primary identity is "follower of Christ" before it is anything else.

In the end, there is only one Church. There is no "Plan B" for God. We are it. And even with all of our warts and scars, struggles and mistakes, Jesus still claims us as His own. We are His Body. We are His Bride. And He loves us like a groom loves his bride on their wedding day.

He invites us to be a part of His Church, no matter what, through thick and thin, whether we like what the Church has become or not. Because, in the end, the Church is not about itself, but about Someone greater. The Church is not about the fractures and disagreements, but about the One who united us through His love and by His grace.


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