“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” Ephesians 5:25 (NIV)
I have been challenged recently about my relationship to The Church. My story is quite unusual, in that I was brought up in a non-denominational Evangelical Church in the ilk of the House Church movement. My Grandfather was the Pastor, my Father the Worship Leader. My Grandmother led the children’s work, and it was one class for everyone. I grew up with church and family inextricably linked.
As I got older resentment began to creep in. Why did my Granda spend so much time with other people’s kids? Didn’t he know I would spend every moment with him if I could? Of course there were also perks. As soon as I could blow a few notes on my clarinet I was in the worship team, cutting my teeth on Noel Richards and hymn tunes.
When I left for University, I faced the almost impossible challenge of finding a new church to root in. Almost 20 years later, I have still not found anything like the home and family I desperately yearn for. There have been a number of times in a number of churches where I have felt peace, for a time. But then something always happens. The mistreatment of an individual which ruins their life. Once or twice that’s been my story. Or would have been without the redemptive love of a God who always changes the full stop to a comma.
Are my expectations too high? Well, probably. I’m a neurodivergent Enneagram 1 perfectionist. What a combination! I also find it desperately hard to build relationships. I lose count of the amount of people I’ve offered meals to, suggested cuppas to, and the take up rate is in the single digits. Each and every offer was an act of fellowship and and attempt at communion with my church family. Why are we so poor at that these days? The early church was built on it.
The spiritual maths isn’t looking great on this one. Is it any wonder I am so disillusioned by church? But. I’m still in one. I’m still part of the global body of Christ. I still hold fast to the ideals for fellowship and mutual support in this walk of life that Jesus laid before us.
But do I love it? Well, no. I wish I did. There is so much pain in my story, so much disappointment and frustration. Would I like to love it? Absolutely. I want nothing more than to belong, to walk with wise elders, gifted healers, prophets and musicians who may not always agree, but do always love. I want to love my church in all its forms, physical, online, local, global. Something for my prayers perhaps …
Peace be with you.