Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Vision for the Church – Eleanor Shepherd

I was preaching on Sunday about the vision Jesus has for the church. What does He want us to be like? As I mulled about it during the week, I thought it might be a good idea to do some market research.

While Sue was doing my hair on Thursday evening, I said to her, “Do you ever go to church?” She is in her mid-twenties so I was not surprised when she told me she did not.

I was intrigued when she told me that she had gone to church with her family when she was younger but as she got older, she decided not to go any more. Curious, I asked, “Why?”

“I stopped believing there was a higher power,” she told me. I wondered what had led her to that conclusion, but I wanted to be respectful and not push her beyond where she was comfortable with this conversation. As a clergy person, I love to talk about spiritual things, but I realize that not everyone does.

Yet, she seemed keen to pursue it a little further, so we moved on. She went on to tell me how she felt people in the church judge and condemn you for how you look without taking the time to discover what you are really like. That attitude, she felt was what really pushed her away from the church. I had to agree. There were too many times in my own life, when I felt condemned by people who had no idea what was really important to me. I just did not fit their idea of what I should be like as a Christian.

Somehow, and I can’t remember exactly how it came up. It was just natural for me to tell her that what really turned everything around in my own life, was the day that I realized that God loved me unconditionally. It did not matter to Him what mistakes I made, or if I said or did stupid or mean or spiteful things. He loved me! He might not love the things I did, but there was no doubt that He loved me. Knowing He loved me just as I was made me want to be different somehow. Knowing I was loved like that made me feel that I was a person of value. My life mattered.

My heart ached as I heard the longing in her voice. “If I could believe that someone loved and accepted me like that, I would go to church. “

What a challenge! Especially when I remember what Jesus said. Other people will know we are his by our love for one another. I think that is a key part of His vision for the church.

Thanks, Sue, for reminding me.

1 comment:

Judith Lawrence said...

Great post, Eleanor! I always enjoy your posts. That God loves us is the most important thing that we can know and that He loves others is the most important thing we can tell them.
Thanks, Judith Lawrence

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