Farmville Enterprise October 25, 2017
Most things worth having come at a cost. Earning a high school, college or post-college degree often takes a lot of paper-writing, problem-solving and late-night studying. An athletic prize generally is the result of hours of physical training, sweat and sore muscles. Good marriages are not usually attained effortlessly, but require intentional communication and self-sacrifice. Consistent parenting demands dedication to following through with wise rules in a loving manner. Staying healthy requires good nutrition, exercise and regular check-ups by the doctor. Despite the occasional discomfort of doing these things well, we understand the value in being committed to the hard work necessary to accomplish our goals. Being a Christian also takes work. Jesus tells us to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us. Being part of a church often means caring for people who might not naturally be our friends in other circumstances; It means being part of a family whose members can challenge our patience as much as we can challenge theirs.
In his superb new book, “Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community,” Millennial Brett McCracken begins with a lengthy description of his dream church. He then writes, “The perfect church does not exist, but committing to a church in spite of its flaws is essential- and worth it. Churchless Christianity is an oxymoron.” “Instead of a la carte Christianity driven by fickle tastes and ‘dream church’ appetites, what if we learned to love churches even when – or perhaps because- they challenge us and stretch us out of our comfort zones? Instead of driving twenty miles away to attend a church that ‘fits my needs,’ what if we committed to the nearest nonheretical, Bible-believing church where we could grow and serve- and where Jesus is the hero – however uncomfortable it may be? Commitment even amidst discomfort, faithfulness even amidst disappointment: this is what being the people of God has always been about.”
In our market-driven consumerist society it is especially important for the church to be constant in its devotion, not to the trends of the culture, but to face-to-face relationships and support that come from people striving to love God and love each other.
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19-22)
In all of its imperfection, ideally the Church of Christ should be a hodgepodge of ages and tastes and interests. God’s name is glorified when we work together through the challenges that such differences bring, considering others better than ourselves. The key is finding unity in diversity. Jonathan Aigner, a director of music ministries and a blogger put it this way. “Congregations have been splintered. Families are separated. Theological continuity is broken. That’s not how it’s supposed to be. Targeting worship toward certain demographics robs us of the opportunity to be the church together. Christ’s invitation is an open one. Worship together like the motley crew we are, so we can learn to see Jesus in people who don’t look like us, don’t talk like us, and don’t vote like us. So young, eager faces can learn what it means to be the church from those who are wrinkled.”