It is election time, and the word “church” seems to get tossed around, misused, and twisted to the point that I no longer recognize what those who are saying “church” mean. It is election time, and people use the word “church” to add some kind of authority to what they are saying to the point that I no longer recognize what authority those who are saying “church” mean.
Church is not a term that I use lightly.
I do not often mention in a post the fact that I go to church. I do not often mention in a post the fact that call myself a Christian because I believe in the saving power of Christ and grace that God extends to all because of His death. Nor do I not often mention in a post itself that the fact that I a pastor’s wife.
I do not mention these things because so many seem to use these for political gain.
But being a Christian (a Christ-follower) is at the heart of who I am. It defines me in ways that I want to be defined even when I fall short of the perfection of the One whom I follow. To identify myself with Christ brings clarity to my life. I do not have to struggle with the questions of “who am I?” or “why am I here?” because being a Christian simply answers those questions as struggle with applying the answers.
Going to church allows me to be challenged by others who identify themselves this way.
I go to church to join other flawed, broken, and needy people who identify themselves as Christ followers, and we join together to struggle with how to follow Him more effectively, more actively, and more sacrificially. I go to church to hear the Word of God proclaimed from the pulpit along with 200 others who hear the same word and take away something different, but there is beauty in that unity. I go to church to sing praises to God along with 200 others sing beside me.
We live life together.
Had the writer of the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes written the third chapter today rather than when he did, he would have said very similar things but with some additions (in bold).
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Notice that nothing is bolded.
With all that has changed since the time of the Old Testament, much has remained the same about relationships – and the relationships in the Church. The Israelites certainly quarreled about everything from leadership positions to how best to raise their children, but they stayed unified under the Lord. They probably did not want to be together all of the time, but they came together weekly to study the Scriptures and to worship God.
Things are not always perfect in my church. We are family, and – like our families of origin – we have differences from time to time. But more often than not, we live life together – unified under the Lord and coming together weekly to study the Scriptures and to worship God.
And there is a time for everything.
This past weekend revealed that to me very clearly as we had a bridal shower on Saturday morning (a time to celebrate), a funeral on Saturday afternoon (a time to mourn our loss and a time to celebrate a great life lived), and a Sunday School Picnic on Sunday after the service. The picnic was especially great because it was potluck-style, and there were some great eats to be had!
The image of us living life together has stayed with me and will stay with me. As I observed the picnic yesterday, I was reminded again of how we live life together.
A grandfather holding his sleeping baby grandson talked with a father holding his sleeping baby girl.
Grown men and women playing a wiffle ball game with children as young as 3.
Two teens flanking their youth sponsor as they all lay on a blanket – the teens listening to the sponsor as she read aloud her study material for a master’s class.