Yesterday I talked about some thing to love about church, the first being this.
1.) Being two or more gathered. There is something beautiful about voices raised together in worship, prayers lifted to the heavens, and arms open wide. Only the church can join people as a body. Only Christ can make them unified as one. “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Matthew 18:20 NASB
But here’s the thing. Difficult people make it hard to find unity.
You know the ones. They do that one thing that drives you nuts. I’m not even talking about sin. Although I guess when you’re talking about human nature, sin is always at the root of it. You’ve said, this is my church and dug in. You’ve made some relationships and you’re growing.
Then comes that lady.
You know her. Nothing you could definitively put your finger on, but that one habit or mannerism that just makes it hard to cope with her.
These are the ones who show up to your community group and your soul sags a bit because they just drain you so. And you find your nerves frayed and weary and you wish they would just go join another group.
Maybe she monopolizes the entire conversation and never asks about anyone else.
Or she finds fault with everything and always complains.
Perhaps she has opinions about every single thing and talks at length or she only has one opinion on everything and harps on and on until you nod your head just to hear the quiet.
Maybe her kids are obnoxious and out of control and you watch them run wild while she ignores them.
Maybe she never leaves a good tip when you go out or she embarrasses you by the way her voice gets louder as the Mexican guy takes your order even though he speaks perfect English, is not deaf, and was probably born in the same Oregon hospital as her.
And then she chews with her mouth open, mangled food churning around her gums as you dodge bits of chicken salad that fly past her puffy red lips at the church picnic.
Or maybe she’s always talking about how she’s gained so much weight and couldn’t possibly eat those treats you baked for the bible study but you go right ahead, you’re not watching your figure.
Or maybe it’s the way her voice always comes out in a nasally twang as she sings in church and yet she talks often about being on the worship team and sings louder than the entire left side of the church in a cacaphonous howl.
And you think, why do I have to deal with her?
Or you see those glaring flaws and enough is enough.
So you hold up a reflection of what they’re doing and you speak truth but not in love. And you just can’t wait to get the list of ways they should change off of your tongue because it feels so good to point it all out and they shrink back or fling forward ready to attack and there is no unity because you never loved them. It was never about them, or God. It was only about yourself.
Because we all want to hang with those who make us feel good. We choose to invest in those we get a return from.
But those who drain and pull and suck our patience, our reserves, our energy, do we invest in them also?
God did. An investment of agony and blood.
He was devastated and crushed for that annoying lady who just put her name below yours on the woman’s bible study sign up. Who will show up week after week and do that thing that makes your flesh come out all prickly and hostile and you smile your bible study smile but you don’t want her there.
And the body dies a little because it can’t live without blood being pumped around and through and over.
Blood that purifies, and brings life, and redeems, and pours into every vessel and makes grace out of the flaws and binds together cells into parts and organs and wholeness. And lifts hands in worship, grasps hands in prayer, and opens mouths to speak truth in love. You can’t do that without blood beating a message of grace for the body.