Daily Lent Devotional #28 (4/05/2011)

Romans 12: 3-5   (New Living Translation)

3 “Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. 4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.”

Rather than hear a Pastor go on an on about the benefits and mission of the Church, I’ll allow author Henri Nouwen to do that for me today.  🙂  May you catch his passion for the “body of Christ” and embrace the church of Jesus  Christ, warts and all.

***  For your listening pleasure, in my Vodpod on this page is a video for the song “The House You’re Building” by Audrey Assad and below is a link to the song “House of God” by John Waller.  I love both of these songs, as they speak about the need for belonging that we all have and how God designed us to live out that longing within His Church.

http://www.myspace.com/johnwaller/music/songs/house-of-god-44213159

Listen to the church. I know that isn’t a popular bit of advice at a time and in a country where the church is often seen more as an obstacle in the way than as the way to Jesus. Nevertheless, I am deeply convinced that the greatest spiritual danger for our times is the separation of Jesus from the church. The church is the body of the Lord. Without Jesus there can be no church; and without the church we cannot stay united with Jesus. I’ve yet to meet anyone who has come closer to Jesus by forsaking the church. To listen to the church is to listen to the Lord of the church. Specifically, this entails taking part in the church’s liturgical life. Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost: these seasons and feasts teach you to know Jesus better and better and unite you more and more intimately with the divine life he offers you in the church.

When we have been wounded by the Church, our temptation is to reject it. But when we reject the Church it becomes very hard for us to keep in touch with the living Christ. When we say, “I love Jesus, but I hate the Church,” we end up losing not only the Church, but Jesus too. The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is specially great because the Church seldom asks us for forgiveness, at least not officially. But the Church as an often fallible human organization needs our forgiveness, while the Church as the living Christ among us continues to offer us forgiveness.  It is important to think about the Church not as “over there” but as a community of struggling, weak people of whom we are part and in whom we meet our Lord and Redeemer.

Loving the Church often seems close to impossible. Still, we must keep reminding ourselves that all people in the Church—whether powerful or powerless, conservative or progressive, tolerant or fanatic—belong to that long line of witnesses moving through the valley of tears, singing songs of praise and thanksgiving, listening to the voice of their Lord, eating together from the bread that keeps multiplying as it is shared. When we remember that, we may be able to say, “I love the Church, and I am glad to belong to it.”

Loving the Church is our sacred duty. Without a true love for the Church, we cannot live in it in joy and peace. And without a true love for the Church, we cannot call people to it.

Blessings,

Pastor Josh

Published in: on April 5, 2011 at 6:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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