I love the church; and recently I pondered upon why it was so. The church is the model of new creation community. Thus, it should give us a glimpse of the kingdom of God. And, I think that’s why sometimes it doesn’t make sense at all, since His kingdom is so different from ours. For example.
It is a community that serves each other voluntarily, ‘without pay.’ It is a non-profit organization, so to speak, where working is based on service, service, and service only. That’s why it is radically subversive to the way of the world, where everything is measured by profit margin. Really, think about it. Have you ever thought that all your service might be a waste of time? Yea, that’s why we cringed and cried upon reading any financial fraud cases in the church.
It is also the place where young and old, women and men, students and professionals, poor and rich, can worship together. The barrier that humanity erects toward each other was deconstructed through and in the cross. The humanity is restored. And it doesn’t make sense at all, since we humans love to make division among ourselves: “Who is my neighbor, then?” That’s why I lament our current brokenness.
It is also the place where forgiveness is primary. A place where we admit that all of us are sinners, such that forgiveness must take place first before any notion of reconciliation can take place. We have been wronged yet we must have wronged others also. And it doesnt make sense at all. Our world is a world of lex talionis, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Well, Jesus’ world is different. His ethics is forgiveness ethics, his praxis is suffering praxis. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
However, as Tom Wright put it, the worst is the corruption of the best, so indeed you can be hurt pretty badly in the church (really badly). I think each of us has our own share of bitterness inflicted by our brothers and sisters, yet each of us has been the perpetrator ourself. But I guess it proves that when it happens, we admit that it is not supposed to be that way. The exception proves the rule. The wound inspires the healing.
I think that’s why I love the church, and why we are called to extend the church to the world.
And not vice versa, as sadly has been the case now and then.