When You Stop Loving the Church

by Elizabeth

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I’ve had a life-long love affair with the church of Jesus Christ. Many of you know that. I’ve talked about it often enough.

But. I almost lost my faith in Christ’s blessed church recently. I was disappointed with His people. Disillusioned even. I felt betrayed by the depravity of mankind.

And then.

I sang the Doxology with my teammates. The words of life set in rich, deep harmonies. Ancient truth, ever new.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly host
Praise Father Son and Holy Ghost

And then.

I sang Hillsong’s “Glory” with my local church. Words I’d never before heard. Words my spirit desperately needed to hear and to proclaim.

Glory to the risen king, glory to the Son, glorious Son
Lift up your heads, open the doors
Let the king of glory come in
And forever be our God

And then.

I remembered the words of Psalm 29, words that my husband had read aloud earlier that day.

The voice of the Lord twists mighty oaks and strips the forests bare.
In His Temple everyone shouts “Glory!”

And then.

It all came rushing back to me. All along, it’s been CHRIST. Christ is the reason I believed in His church in the first place. Because of Him, and not because of His people.

We are His because of Him, and because of Him, He is our God. Never because of us. For as we used to sing in youth group,

My only hope is You, Jesus
My only hope is You
From early in the morning till late at night
My only hope is You

Human beings were never worthy of my hope. My only hope is in God, and when we’re in God’s Temple, we all cry Glory! Even the believers who disillusion me.

And then.

I remembered more. Standing there with my hands lifted as high to the sky as I could reach, I remembered standing in that same position last year, shouting out Hillsong’s “The Creed” with a shattered heart.

I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the name of Jesus

And then.

I realized that my strongest experiences of worship don’t usually happen when life is going well. No, it’s when life is going poorly and I’m in the middle of a storm and I still stand and sing GLORY that I most intensely experience God’s nearness and God’s greatness.

And this praise, this powerful act of defiance against evil and against discouragement and against hatred, it’s something no one and nothing can take away from us. It’s our right and our privilege as God’s children, and it can’t be stolen from us.

God alone is worthy of our hope and worthy of our praise. We proclaim it now, and one day in the Temple, we will all join together, saints and angels alike, to shout GLORY. Forever. And ever.

Amen.

This article was reprinted at both Relevant and Faithit.

You can read all the posts in my Church series here.

14 thoughts on “When You Stop Loving the Church

  1. Thank you for this. It is encouraging today when I struggle with the people part of Church. I needed the reminding that I loved the Church in the first place because of Christ, not the people. Thank you

    • I so relate to your struggle! I think the beautiful thing about this experience, for me, was that not only did it bring me back to God as my hope, but it also renewed my belief in the local church, because that’s the context in which these good things occurred. Which was just kind of crazy to realize.

      Bless you with peace, hope, and love as you seek Christ above all — especially when people cause you pain.

  2. Oh yes. This is where I’ve been lately, too. It’s so helpful to remember WHO we worship, like you said–and that it’s not the people in the church, but Jesus. Love the ways God led you back to this truth. Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth!

  3. Oh Elizabeth, how I needed this. This fits in with my testimony and struggle for years. I said I loved God but His people got on my nerves. I wanted to be one of His but didn’t know how to deal properly with others. It sounds dramatic but it is true, and for a frazzled mama it became a domino effect in my heart. This is such a great message. Sharing!

  4. What others have said. Because this is a public space I can’t go into detail, but I was told just over a week ago that as a member of a church committee we all “must” attend church to show our unity. I just don’t think God is into false surface unity — I think he longs for true unity.

    • So true Amy — God longs for us to be united in Jesus, not merely in show or in words. My strongest experiences of unity in the Body have occurred when we rallied around the name and power of JESUS and not when we were striving for unity, for unity’s sake (sometimes in a pushy way).

      I can tell there’s a story here, maybe even a painful one. So, thank you for dropping into this space and just being present here. Love, E

  5. So so true: our family is in the middle of our own unusual storm right now and I find myself desperately seeking His presence more than ever. Nothing makes sense without Him.

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