I once heard it said, "The role of the church is to comfort the troubled and trouble the comfortable." Unfortunately, the church has done just the opposite. It has become a place that comforts the comfortable and troubles the troubled.
If given the option, every one of us would choose to take a vacation on a cruise ship versus spending time cramped on a lifeboat with people who are different than we are. I know I would!
Unfortunately, many Christians and churches believe our goal in life should be to experience pleasure, comfort, joy, and happiness. These are all things that pleasure cruises offer. However, this is not promised to followers of Jesus. Jesus promises life to the full, not life without suffering and pain. Jesus actually tells His disciples to expect suffering or tribulation!
"In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Our flesh craves the absence of conflict, the absence of discomfort, and the absence of struggle.
Growth = confrontation + tribulation
That's the way God grows our character and our faith, by forcing us — through relationships with others (confrontation) and unfortunate circumstances (tribulation) — to deal with our brokenness and need for Him.
That is where the Church should help you.
When we begin to follow Jesus, if left on our own we would avoid every situation that might cause us to sacrifice, suffer, and avoid conflicts with people who are different from us. Being in a church family forces us to trust Jesus and go to Him as we work through relational struggles that we might avoid if we were not in a church.
The church should provide a safe place for us to lovingly walk with and confront one another in love in order to deal with areas in which we need healing and growth.
Our journey of faith cannot happen in the way God intended without others in our lives walking with us. This can only happen in a church if people trust that the church is working to bring healing and restoration to broken lives, not working to make people look perfect on the outside.
If the church is promoting a culture of false humility, judgment, and condemnation, than healing and loving confrontation can never take place. That's the reason the church needs to be recognized or seen as a lifeboat, where people come to have their broken hearts restored and their wounds healed. The church needs to demonstrate that Christ demands loyalty, not perfection, and that we're all broken, we all have wounds, and we're all on the journey of healing together.
Six months into River City Church’s existence, a member came to me and said, "This is known as the church you go to if you're all jacked up." That was true of who we were then and is true of who we are today. Just last Sunday as we were coming out of a powerful time of testimonies, I sensed the Holy Spirit wanting to remind our church that this is who we are, more than anything else. We are a family whom God has called together to bring healing and restoration to our broken lives.
As a church, we'll get lots of things wrong, but if you stick around I promise you'll find healing and transformation in your life.
God gave us Psalm 147:3 as our call to worship that Sunday: "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." What I didn't know was He was going to use it to remind us of who we are called to be as His church!