I love the local church. Any one who is part of a local church has to love it (although the converse isn’t always true). There is no other choice in my mind. It is so imperfect and so messy that only love would ever keep us there.
I was raised a Pastors’ kids. When I say, “I grew up in church”, I mean it in the most literal of ways. I literally grew up in church. I slept under pews for my naps and ran wild through the building playing hide ‘n seek after school while my Dad finished up counselling sessions.
My history with church has been messy to say the least. I’ve seen the best and the worst. When people hear my story the response is always, “and you still go to church?! How is that possible?” Well, I’m not sure but I suppose only love could keep me there. (Ok, or stupidity but I like to think love.)
As I’ve gone from my childhood, through my teens, survived my twenties and am now finishing up my thirties. I’ve reached a place of both gratitude and honest acceptance of the realities of this dysfunctional and messy thing called church.
Sometimes I think I accept the dysfunction of the church to easily. Other times I think I need more grace than I have. I have a lot of opinions about how things could be done on Sundays and the rest of the week. I mostly keep them to myself.
The past few years, though, one cry has been rising up within me that makes all others fade.
It is this: Church, give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus.
Show me who He is.
Enlarge my vision beyond what I know.
Shine all your lights on the breathtaking beauty of this divine man.
Help me to to go from seeing mere shadows of Him to being blinded by his grace.
Bring me down to the dusty roads he walked in the most normal of ways.
Help me to reach out to touch him, hear him and know Him.
Start with Jesus and end with Jesus.
Simply, give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus, simply.
A while back I was at a Christmas service and we began to sing songs as is done in church. Three songs in we had not once mentioned His precious name. Not once did we remind ourselves of who he was and is and will always be.
We sung of our great need. We sung of our determination to serve the whole world. We sung of our desire to be radical in our faith.
Church, I need Jesus.
When the church is at it’s best, Jesus is most clearly seen. When we are at our worst, Jesus is but a mere shadow. He is the clear picture of an invisible God. Show me that clear picture. I’m desperate for it. Don’t leave me desperate. Show me how it could possibly be true that my deepest longings could be satisfied in knowing a Jewish carpenter.
That’s my cry. That’s my longing. Give me Jesus.