Read this somewhere (I don’t remember where)…
The neighborhood bar is possibly the best counterfeit that there is to the fellowship Christ wants to give his church. It is an imitation, dispensing liquor instead of grace, escape rather than reality–but it is a permissive, accepting, and inclusive fellowship.
It is un-shockable.
You can tell people secrets, and they usually don’t tell others or even want to. The bar flourishes not because most people are alcoholics, but because God has put into the human heart the desire to know and be known, to love and be loved. And so many seek a counterfeit at the price of a few beers…
Somehow this rings true. Church was never meant to be a place of ‘nice happy people’ who have no issues. Weird thing is that as I’ve interacted with many who’ve not been to church in a long time and have only started coming to Mavuno, my own faith has been challenged. I’ve been forced to think through why I believe what I believe. And to discover that some of my previously tightly held beliefs were more based on culture than on God’s word. And to see that I too have issues; I’ve just become really good at hiding them!
With this realization, I’ve come to agree with another metaphor for church that I first heard from Dr. Omar Djoeandy, a good friend from down under. Church is like a hospital. None of us is there because we have all the answers. Those of us who’ve been there for a while are also fellow patients, who just happened to get here earlier, and so can point our fellow patients to the Doctor.
Maybe church was meant to look more like rehab center than a social club. As in ‘hi, I’m Pastor M and I’m a recovering sinner!’