Reading time: two minutes.
A cartoon shows a couple reading the sign in front of the church that reads, “Welcome to the church with tons of issues.” He says to her, “Well, at least they’re honest about it!” It’s only funny because it’s true!
I’ve personally never met a church that didn’t have tons of issues. How could it be otherwise? The church is simply people (and pastor!) with tons of issues gathered together at the foot of the cross. It’s not at all surprising that churches are flawed. The miracle is that we are clustered together in relationships that are marked by love and care.
Relational wellbeing is the Risen Christ living in the midst of His people loving and forgiving us so we can live and serve together.Thirty years ago when I met with engaged couples, I shared the “Elizabeth Taylor Theory” of marriage. (I’m not sure who the modern equivalent is.) The theory suggested that her eight or nine failed marriages never had a chance. When you’re hyped as America’s Sweetheart and The Most Beautiful Woman in the World, expectations of perfection doomed any chance of a lasting relationship. Reality eventually sets in.
Our faith in Christ, our relationship with Him by grace and our connections to one another in the Church are grounded in the reality of our sinfulness. Our relationships with one another, at home and in the church, soar because of the reality of His resurrection from the dead. Every relationship that patiently endures the flaws and faults of the parties involved is a credit to the new life we have through forgiveness.
What a joy and relief it is for pastors and church workers to be able to be themselves before God’s people, to be their flawed, sinful, imperfect, but redeemed, selves. We church workers get in big trouble when we try to present ourselves as Super-Disciple.
I love the Confession in LSB’s Order of Compline. First the worship leader confesses his sin and receives the pronouncement of pardon and forgiveness from the worshiping congregation, and then the body confesses and is forgiven. That’s reality. The Church is the family of God mutually confessing and celebrating forgiveness together.
Ministers of the gospel love the forgiveness by which we live. We proclaim it. We depend on it. We model it to the people we serve.
Healthy congregations are grounded in the reality that of course we have tons of issues.
Thanks be to God, the grace of Jesus overcomes them all. And the Easter miracle of new life is that we’re learning to be patient with one another.
Thanks for reading.
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