The church shouldn’t hurt.
I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one. - Jesus
Jesus doesn’t hurt. Hear me. Some of you need to hear this. Lean in close, because maybe the only way you'll hear these words is if they’re whispered to your soul.
In Scripture, his yoke is easy and his burden light.
Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. (Hebrews 12:2)
In our beloved hymns, softly and tenderly he calls us. Amazing grace still makes the sweetest sound. Believers before us told us a sweet story, wonderful words of life, about how he walks with me, and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own.
From the grand cathedrals to the school cafeterias where we worship, Jesus meets us at the altar. We find him in the bread and wine. In the praise songs we sing and the sermon points we hear. When two or three gather in church basements around the world - taking a class together or sitting down to a meal - he promised to be among them.
We criticize our church, we leave the church, we sojourn from one denomination to the next, and he is still there. The same yesterday, today and forever.
And the only way I know to overcome our hurt, our disillusionment and our disregard for the church - is to ask Jesus to show us he is there.
As he reveals himself in the Scripture we read, in the songs we sing, the prayers we pray and throughout the buildings where we gather, we must wrestle blessings from him.
Not for the sake of receiving blessing. No, but for the sake of giving blessing. Blessing for our pastors who are overworked. Blessing for the hurting who we ignore. Blessing for our children. Blessing for those near and far - for God loved them all so much he sent his only son.
If the church has hurt you, nay, when the church hurts you, look and look and look until you find Jesus. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Then, the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.