A friend of mine went back to church last Sunday. She must had fought many internal battles before deciding to face the church again. She asked, “I don’t know how a backslider, a blatantly open backslider with a lifestyle that the church does not condone, can ever come back in full strength in the glory of God?” There is a whole lot more in between those words that were not expressed. It takes a lot of courage to give someone who has hurt you, and whom you have hurt too, a chance again. And knowing what a church is capable of – both good and bad – requires just as much.

I came across this quote from somewhere recently; a good reminder of the church’s capacity to hurt and heal.

“There is nothing that can break your heart like the church, but neither is there anything that can so restore your heart as being among a few people whose love is transparent, tenacious, and utterly not their own doing.”

I do not know what Jesus was thinking when he entrusted the church with the role of being his hands and feet in this world cos we sure screwed it up big time….. a lot of the time. He must be out of his mind. Sometimes, I wonder how he feels when he look at all the mess we’ve created. He did foresee the future; no one can say otherwise. So there must be something he found worth risking. I do not have answers for you, I told my friend. I am full of questions myself but I agree with the person who quoted that because I’ve heard of, and sometimes encountered, though rarely, such people – those whose love is transparent, tenacious, and utterly not their own doing. So I shall continue to trust Jesus knew what he was doing. These days when I go to church, I see things with a different eye. I do not naively believe that all we do and the brand of christianity we’re trying to sell is 100% true and good and beyond reproach. I do not take church so seriously anymore even though I am serious about God and about my role in his church. But I will continue to go to church because I believe corporate worship and the regular hearing of God’s word has it’s special purpose and benefit to my spiritual life. If I am already at a very low point in my life, the only worst thing I could do is to abandon God. Going to church keeps me in touch with God when I have difficulty connecting with him for whatever reasons. At times, he did not show up, or at least that was what it felt like. But most times it does make a difference, like today – I have never been so alive and clear headed in a long time. It’s as though God had spoken directly to me.

It’s risky, messy and often ugly, getting involved with the church. But should we abandon her because she has not met our expectations; has failed, just like everyone of us? Can we say we love God yet turn away from his church? Why don’t we be the ones who dress the wounds and wipe the tears of the church; be God’s hands and feet to his people and to the world?

And so I told my friend, “If you can my dear, put your trust in God alone, not his church or anyone else.” It is something I struggle with all the time but I suspect that could be the only way to real peace and contentment. I hope my friend finds grace and not condemnation in this new church because I know she really misses her Abba and wants to come home.