One Church

I’m struggling to write this week. My heart is a little raw. We are the body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, yet, we are still broken and human. We still cut and jab and lash out and wound and then hide, take sides, and assign the blame elsewhere. We shout so loudly when we pronounce judgement on the decisions and reactions of others but act so achingly slowly to take up our own cross and life the cruciform life of giving our time when it’s inconvenient and speaking truth with enough love to cut through webs of stubbornness and walls of insecurity.

Where is God in all this? We push him to the sidelines and scream over his Word for silence so we can spread our feelings like a pestilence and our doubts like a plague. We revel in the muddy mess of self-righteousness. We rage against the injustice of others’ actions and unbearable consequences of our own.

Sin, sin always separates. It always creeps in and whispers in our ears that no one else understands our struggle and that no one else can bear our burden. It’s insidious and isolating. It tells us we are on our own and drowning. Fear of vulnerability keeps us from freedom and chained in the shadows of our own shame and inadequacy.

But listen, restless soul, never once does his Word agree with our flippant, traitor hearts that God is holding out on us. Not once. Instead, it plays a symphony for us of how he woos us as his bride, the desire of his heart. He pursues us with passion and vehemence. All of us – even the ones I’m struggling to forgive, the ones I’m so angry at, the ones I can’t understand so I pull away, the ones that tore my heart right into pieces. Community. One bride. One Church. “There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:4-6)

There is a valid reason that the Bible tells us two are better than one (Eccl. 4:9-12) and that it is not good for man to be alone (Gen 2:18). “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Gen 1:27). The triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – formed us in his own likeness, specifically designed for togetherness. Great mystery shrouds how one God can be three separate and distinct Persons, but my intellect gives way to faith as I set aside the baseness and absurdity of the idea of a finite and definable deity of my own limited construct.

And so, God, infinite and ineffable, gives life to the dead and calls that which is not as though it were. (Rom 4:17) He brings us together in Christ – whether we can ever agree or not. Our differences become a beautiful mosaic when held together up to the light. We are so much less without them.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “That which you hope to change, you must first love.” Let us love each other, then, before we have any hope of change.

And we are not called to flounder or even to just survive. If we are not growing we are wasting away and atrophying. Spiritual maturity encompasses both my relationship with God and with others. I cannot grow if I am not in community. Yet, I also cannot rely on others to do what I ought to do myself. Simply going to the gym and watching a workout does not make me healthier. I must do the work myself and learn the nuances of meeting my own physical and spiritual needs. It is discipline and sustained daily effort. It is constant realignment and refocusing on the Word. It is rerouting my feelings in the truth – the truth that begins with God and ends at what he has done for me, for us, in Christ. One body. One Church.