Six English letters that carries within itself a ton of emotions, good and bad.
For some the word “church” brings back memories of family, friends, Sunday School rooms, great worship and potlucks. To others, the word recalls unwanted memories of abuse, pain, human politics and rejection.
I have been on both sides of this scale – finding great comfort and sharp pain in that one word.
Yet throughout it all I refuse to give up on the word nor the concept that it represents. It is like the tension of the here and not yet. We are called by the King to walk with others through this journey of life, yet in doing so we open ourselves up to pain and heart ache.
It is like the Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring.
Nine people chosen from different races and culture. Not all the people liked, loved, or even carried for the others. However they were all thrown together by forces above them and tasked with a mission. As they journeyed through the land, they experienced betrayal and pain along with self-sacrifice and love. In a word, they needed each other.
It is the same with us. We are all on a mission with Jesus through the land of darkness awaiting for the fullness of the Kingdom to come. In following the King, we have bound ourselves to people of different races and cultures. There are those people and cultures we like and love along with those who we don’t. Yet we all are walking together with our Lord – and we all need each other, just like the Fellowship needed all nine members.
And just like Tolkien’s Fellowship, our fellowship looks different at different times. It may be a formal group of nine (i.e. the organized church with a building and all that) or it may be three friends riding across the land searching for lost love ones or two Hobbits walking through hell itself.
The manner or structure of what the church looks like doesn’t matter as much as some may think it does. At the core we are to be a fellowship on mission with our Lord walking through the darkness with those we love and those we are learning to love.