Loving the Church

Scot McKnight’s blog directed my attention to this post by Tim Keel yesterday. In it he quotes a passage written by Carlo Carretto:

How baffling you are, oh Church, and yet how I love you!
You have made me suffer, and yet how much I owe you!
I should like to see you destroyed and yet I need your presence.
You have given me so much scandal and yet you have made me understand sanctity.

I have seen nothing in the world more devoted to obscurity, more compromised, more false, and I have touched nothing more pure, more generous, more beautiful. How often I have wanted to shut the doors of my soul in your face, and how often I have prayed to die in the safety of your arms.

No, I cannot free myself from you, because I am you, although not completely.
And where should I go?

Keel says:

Anyone who has sought to live out their life of faith in the midst of a particular community, who has sought to be a Jesus-person with other Jesus-people, knows both the highs and the lows of true, as opposed to idealized, community.

True that. Those of us who pursue the ideal Christian community, especially out of a reconstruction of the New Testament story, tend to build up an ideal image in our heads. Then when we live out the reality of our dreams, we discover that real life is much messier, much less “glorious” than we had hoped. And it’s not just because of all those fallen people you have to deal with, either. Part of the problem is you.

Thus we find ourselves pursuing the life of the church and failing at it left and right. But you know what? That’s the way it is all over. Just ask around. Nobody’s getting it all right. Most of us can only get one part or another down at a time. Maybe the best we can do is to be faithful to that facet of God’s purpose that we know we’ve been called to, and to be as open as possible to His work in others who follow a slightly different mission, but all by the same grace and the same Spirit.

I’m becoming more and more aware that we need one another. Not only within the local community, but within the larger community of the whole Body of Christ.

I need the input and challenge that comes from rubbing shoulders with Christians outside of my own little group.

I need the input of Christians from other parts of the country, and from other countries of the world.

I even need the input of Christians from other points in time. Those whose time passed centuries ago still have things to teach me, and I intend to hear what they have to say..

I think growth in Christ over time should make you more open to the larger Body of Christ, not less. That, I think, is part of loving the Church, too.


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One Response to “Loving the Church”

  1. J. Samuel Thomas Says:

    Sometimes growth in Christ means embracing more than just a “slightly” different mission, too.

    A big “Amen!” to your post here, Neil.

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