What is it about the Church that is so difficult? Just about every Christian I’ve talked to have a sense that something is just not right in the Church. In many cases, Christians are frustrated with Church so much that they are tempted to leave. Yet with all this frustration and difficulty there is still a sense of longing—a passion for community. Why is it so hard?
Maybe Church is like marriage. Just about every college student wants to get married someday. They’re stuck in a dream. They’re constantly searching for their “somebody,” and when they meet that somebody they’re usually googly eyed over them until the day they get married and beyond. This is the story throughout America. There is a passion among people for relationship. Why, then, is the divorce rate somewhere around 50% (http://www.divorcerate.org/)? Why can’t we keep these marriages, which seem to be so important to people, together? Often enough it’s because people just don’t realize the weight of what they’re getting themselves into.
We’re often stuck in a dream of Church. The dream is worth having. The dream is our passion for Church but that’s not where it ends. We have to, when we dream these dreams, realize the importance and the weight of what we’re getting ourselves into. When we enter into community we are getting ourselves into a beautiful mess. It’s an ugly mix of people, the passions, and their problems. Yes, we can do great things together. But anything we do together involves dreams but it also involves sinking our fingers into the muddy mess of the problems of the people around us. It involves true, unadulterated community. If we don’t understand this—if we don’t understand how beautifully ugly this thing we call Church is—we’ll never get past the dream and soon the dream within us will die.
The hope in this is that with Christ no matter how dead the dream is within you, it can be revived in the resurrection. The truth is that the dream will never die because the Christ whose body this Church represents is victorious over death. Let us not lose hope, Let us not give up. May God revive within us the dream that has been built within our hearts-the dream for community.
Are we cool? I been missin' ya for a long time now.
I hope things are well. I hope I have not offended you somewhere along the way. (I am apt to challenge, but I hope I have not offended...)
Bonhoeffer uses the term "wish-dream" and says that the church is not a wish-dream. It would then be of our making. We need to look past our vision of church and look rather at Christ who is the head of his church (to use one metaphor). I think your term "beautiful ugliness" very much describes our saint-yet-sinner lives here on earth. It helps to realize that the pedestals we put others (or ourselves) on are also just wish-dreams as well.
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