I spent many years thinking “IT” was simple. Unlike science, the arts, medicine, romance and love. “IT” was computers. That’s all. Simple. And even though I never understood computers – I knew what “IT” was.
And then I found I didn’t.
IT is not “computers”. IT is lots of things others than computers. Networks, programming, data management, servers, patch panels, coding, testing, AND helpdesks. “IT” is as diverse as science and medicine and romance and love.
Which makes it simpler and more complicated – both at the same time.
“When the crowds were increasing, Jesus began to say, “This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here! The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here!” ” Luke 11:29-32
I used to be guilty of that same “thinking” with Church: Church is simple. God is simple. Love is simple. So Church – which is all of that is also simple:
“See, something greater than Jonah is here!”
So simple, that – God in the Old Testament, and God Soft Hands Jesus in the New Testament – both say it – time after time after time after …
And then I found it wasn’t.
The first time around Church never hurt me. The first time around (at fourteen years of age) I decided I was “acting” at being a Good Christian – and I walked away from Church (and developed a knowing disdain in the decades which followed). What I never really understood (or if I did, never cared enough to really “get”) – was that “Church” is people. Church is ONLY people. Just as “IT” or “science” or “the arts” or “medicine” is all about “people”.
Church is simple. But it isn’t. Church is people. But it isn’t. Church is love. But it isn’t. Church is all are welcome. But all are not.
“See, something greater than Jonah is here!”
Church is relationship. And our relationship with God is just the tip of the iceberg. The one with “people” is the rest. And people need (even though unconditional love doesn’t). People do need (and love does not). People need to feel safe. People need to be heard. People need to know they matter. People NEED to matter. And to God we do. To God we can do no wrong. Not a wrong that means He cuts us off. That He rejects us for. That He never speaks to us again because of. That He gives up on us for. But people do that to people.
The bible is stuffed full of people giving up on God and each other. And how God never gives up on anyone. Ever.
“Make disciples of all nations.”
Is that why “this bit” is often quoted but rarely delivered? Because we give up on each other so quickly … because we “spend our love” as we spend our money … on special things and special people? And “People of Church” do the same – spend on the people who see things (and God) just as I do – the ones who will also “spend theirs” with me? And if “they” don’t … ? We BOTH choose to walk away. People letting people down.
The “second time around” Church has taught me this.
That, if “making disciples” was always top of the list – we would never give up on each other. And we would find ourselves (surprise, surprise) doing that “other bit” … the “Through this they will know you are my disciples” bit. The “unconditional love in reality” bit.
Because if unconditional love “works” for me and God – but ONLY with you so long as you agree with me … Then we will screw each other and God every time.
Which brings me to the “unspoken prayer” I have been taught the second time around …
“We pray you bring light and wonder to the lost and lonely, dear Father. We ask that you heal the hurting, dear God. We fall at Your feet in wonder and awe. We worship You. We love You as you Love us. And we pray for the fallen. We pray for the un-churched. We bring our petition to you and ask this for others. But for myself … just a mere trifle … a small detail you can so easily grant. Release me from the burden of making disciples in my own church. It takes so much time. And I have so many more urgent things to do for You (otherwise You know I wouldn’t even ask at all). You know me, dear Father – I am Yours! So thank you dear Father – in Jesus’ name, Amen.”
What is that other “bit” we all say … ?
Be careful what you wish for …
>> and a PostScript – a PS:
You might want to pop across to Just Me Being Curious and – “My naked God Soft Hands Jesus” – also written today. These (three) posts seem to be as one: this post, one by Don Merritt, and now “My naked GSHJ”. Over to you …
3 thoughts on “Church is simple. But it isn’t.”
[…] Church is simple. But it isn’t. (my post earlier today) seems to have been GSHJ preparing the ground, tilling the soil, taking off his robes. And now Don’s post and those verses feels like my personal “washing of the feet”. […]
Profoundly wise triple-play.
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