Forget “People of Walmart.” Try “People of Church.” While I haven’t seen anyone at my church wearing four-sizes-too-small glowing pink-and-purple spandex, we are definitely a motley bunch. In any church (and especially one as large as ours) there are bound to be some “interesting” people.
Some are exuberant worshipers, dancing in the aisles, while others refuse to even lip-sync the words, standing with arms folded across their chests. We have Mohawks and buzz cuts, long haired hippies and intimidating (until you get to know them) bikers in their church leathers. Maybe we even have you!
More significantly, we have plastic smiles, “I’m missing the game” sulkers, holy hypocrites, and some individuals who are just plain rude. Lots of people say they love us on Sunday but ignore us the rest of the week. And how about that insincere “How are you doing?” delivered as the person turns away without waiting for our reply?
The problem with church is that it is comprised of people. It’s easy to be spiritual when we’re alone with God. Mix in a bunch of other people and we immediately get on one another’s nerves. God calls us the body of Christ. It’s incredible to me that He acknowledges us at all.
For some reason, perhaps known only to God, He chooses to dwell not just in individuals, but in all of us together:
Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in [among] you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
I admit that there are times I don’t want to go to church. I’m tired, or dissatisfied with some aspect of the service. I feel disconnected, or am stressed by the length of my to-do list. Pete quietly encourages me to go anyway. Usually, I’m glad I did.
It doesn’t really matter if “church” is traditional or contemporary, a home group or a megachurch. We can be contemplative, post-modern, liturgical, charismatic. It isn’t the outside “skin” that’s significant. What is important is that we get together. We need one another.
Without the interaction, support, encouragement, and opportunity that we experience as a group, our spiritual lives become stunted, hollow, feeble. It is only in the context of the body that we can function in our gifting. It is only when we are stretched that we grow. When we see ourselves as others see us, we learn humility. It is only in the presence of other people that we learn to love.
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another….” Hebrews:10-25