Being a leader exposes you to some of the ugliness of the Church. The more someone gets involved in the activities of their faith community, the more unsightly parts are going to be exposed.
I think of it this way. When we were recording our sermons to go online, the product on the screen did not look anything like the room where we recorded them. What was shot in front of the camera was clean, clear, and without flaws, but the other side was a different story. There were cords everywhere, light stands, blankets to reduce the sound, computer monitors, and what might look like a total mess. There was beauty with the right camera angle, and when someone came into the room, they were surprised to see the chaos.
That can be a picture of the Church. On Sunday morning, everything is pleasant, but behind the scenes can be personal struggles, inflated egos, sin, and unpleasant conversations. Through the years, I have witnessed young, and naïve people become Church leaders and later leave the Church entirely from what they experienced. I wish it were not true, but I have witnessed it, and sometimes I have contributed to it.
The blood of Jesus is the only thing that unites us. The Church is not a group of people who come together because we are perfect and have a great idea to change the world. We are people who come together because of his grace, and he is transforming us.
Occasionally things happen that restore your joy for the people of God. Like a dysfunctional family who somehow, every holiday, has these glorious moments of love and connection. If you hang around the Church long enough, you will see the ugliness, but you will also see the beauty.
Over the past three weeks, my family has been blessed by the Church I lead. People have shown grace and mercy through my failures, given gifts to my son, become friends with my mother, and been an enormous blessing to my life. I could spend pages telling you the stories of how I have been reaffirmed in my love for the people of God.
The Church is a flawed group of individuals who get it right every once in a while. This week I am thankful for my family of faith. Thanks to everyone who has blessed my life. Thanks for looking beyond the mess and sharing the love of Jesus. I pray that one day everyone gets to experience the Church the way I have recently because then you would know why I still love it.