I spent some time with a friend today talking about issues in our lives. We’re both kind of at the same place in our sojourning down here, i.e., the realization that nothing and no one can satisfy that critical longing in our lives but God. I think He brought us together for a time and I plan on enjoying her company for as long as we’re able to get together. It’s interesting to me how God works. We attended the same church and went through some of the same trials but God took her and her family on a different route for a time. Now that we’re back together we’re comparing notes and it amazes me how creative God is and how He will use anything and everything to teach us and mold us. He never wastes a good problem.
We ended up talking about events which tore the church apart. Hindsight is so perfect and it’s easy to see what should and shouldn’t have been allowed to happen and where mistakes were made. But I believe our hearts were in the right place, and that counts for something. God is, after all, faithful and will build his church in spite of (and dare I say because of?) our shortcomings. Still, I am now finding myself somewhat dazed and trying to sort some things out.
Sheldon Vanauken said, “The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians–when they are sombre and joyless, when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths. But, though it is just to condemn some Christians for these things, perhaps, after all, it is not just, though very easy, to condemn Christianity itself for them. Indeed, there are impressive indications that the positive quality of joy is in Christianity–and possibly nowhere else. If that were certain, it would be proof of a very high order.” He wrote this in his journal while he and his wife were still agnostics. (Btw it comes from “A Severe Mercy”, an excellent read.)
I fight disillusionment. I see the way Christians often treat each other, judge each other, blame each other, behave as children, and it grieves me. Many are falling away from the church, and who can blame them? “The system” isn’t working anymore and God is shaking things up. But it is worth it to hang in there. I just have to remind myself that Jesus didn’t defend himself and I don’t need to either. I just need to be faithful. I want to hear “Well done” and running away will solve nothing. Ministry is messy because people are messy (myself included). But through the mess I’m learning what real love is, and so it is worth it.