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Learning to Love the Church, Part 1

August 14, 2010

Disillusionment is defined as disenchantment, freeing or being freed from illusion or conviction. The Church is full of people who are disillusioned. People who have believed something, and now the circumstances have changed their convictions, beliefs, and understandings. They had a view of The Church, Christians, and living a Christian life, yet that view now seems to have been fake, false, or contrived. Some of them are beginning to wonder if they believed a lie.

I understand their disillusionment because I have been in their shoes. I also listen to their stories, spend time working with them, and spend a lot of time sharing with the lost, broken, hurting, and disillusioned. They want faith, and they want to be faithful, yet many of them are just a few steps away from calling it quits. Sometimes they are ready to leave a church or group. Some are ready to step away from ministry. Some, like me, even tried to step away but find they can’t leave, only they do not know how to be a part of “the system” any longer either. More often though, they are just growing hard in heart, or spiritually and emotionally they are turning listless, lifeless, and lukewarm.

One of the results of disillusionment is losing a love for the Church. People carry hurt, offense, frustration, bitterness, or anger about how other people have walked out their faith. They apply those feelings to the Church, instead of to the people involved.

Recently I have been a part of several conversations online that have pulled at my heart, because I want to love the church.

I have a lot of respect and admiration for these blogs and their authors. Although I have not met the authors in person I have followed some of their words and work.

  • Last week at Stuff Christians Like there was a lengthy discussion about experiences people have encountered when trying to find a new church. You only have to read this single post to understand why some people are cynical and disillusioned.
  • About this same time Tom Davis of Children’s Hope Chest asked if the Bible is really the word of God. The post was inspired by a statement made by Frank Schaeffer. The ensuing conversations with both believers and non-believers was very eye-opening about how people view the Bible and if they consider it to be true.

Author Sarah Cunningham wrote a book entitled Dear Church: Letters from a Disillusioned Generation. In it she said, “Disillusionment with the way things are in the church can also inspire us to improve and deepen our involvement in Christ’s mission.”

That is my hope for the disillusionment we face, that we will move from allowing it to discourage, hurt, frustrate, or turn us away from the church, and instead we will be inspired to improve and deepen our involvement in Christ’s mission.

That is the number one reason I Love the Church.

It is about Christ, not us.

He created it. We are just trying to walk it out. Some forms of it are not working, and we have made many mistakes along the way, but that is on us, not on Christ. Church is to be about Christ, but often we fail and make it about us.

I love The Church because it is loved by Christ. If he loves it, then I too should love it, and through him I am able to hold onto that love. I love The Church because it was envisioned, spoken of, and started by the most awe-inspiring and visionary man who ever existed.

Do you love The Church? How does the fact that Christ created The Church and made it about him affect your love?

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