God is not “church”

joellePonderings4 Comments

I have been doing a lot of writing, but even more praying lately. I have been praying about many things.

I have been praying for peace, for a calmness to extinguish my sorrow and rage.

I have been praying for healing and wholeness… for my wounds and the wounded.

I have been praying about what I should say, if anything, about what I’m going through.

I would be lying to you if I told you my body hasn’t physically shaken with anger. I would be lying if I told you I haven’t wept. I would be lying if I told you I was proud of every word I have spoken through this experience. But, all of this is because I am a human, as are the members of a church (board and staff). Church is not God. Church is comprised of a bunch of fallible humans (myself included). Humans create for themselves many things which God does not intend. The blessing of church is a group of people coming together to worship God with one voice, the community that is formed by the gathering and the support we can offer one another. As with all human constructs, there are flaws.

I don’t understand what has happened but I have no doubt in my heart that I will (and my family will) look back on this time in our lives and see God’s hand in it. It’s hard to feel betrayed and kicked to the curb by people you thought were your second family but I’m keeping in mind we all make mistakes and God can turn any situation into good. (And also trying to remember that the people I feel “kicked us to the curb” are far fewer than those who have offered support and comfort)

The sad part to me is, this isn’t the first time. I’ve been hurt by church before… many, many times. This isn’t the first church that has asked my family to leave. I’ve been called a slut in church (I was 14 and very much a virgin. My skirt was a little short), I’ve had people tell me I’m living in sin by leaving my first husband, in church (ya, not going to get into that one) and there are more “incidents” that are just as emotionally horrific. But this is all human. God doesn’t say or do these things. These are the things that made Jesus so mad in the New Testament. Jesus was the human embodiment of love and he hung out with incredulous, unsavory people. He was constantly explaining to the church (pharisees and sadducees) how ridiculous they were. Paul gave the church a stern talking to many times as well. It’s because we’re human and we fail.

What happened at Timbers is “church”. It’s not “God”. So, if in all of this mess, you’re doubting God’s love, don’t. God’s love is perfect and it never fails.

It’s hard to keep it in mind, but God isn’t church. Humans are church and we often fail. We fail at saying only what is edifying, we fail at not having envy or spite in our hearts, we fail at not stealing or squandering what we’ve been entrusted to, we fail at having patience and long suffering with each other, we fail at perfect love.

relationship with God is far different than religion. Religion is about rules and “sides”. A relationship with God is about trust, faithfulness, generosity, gentleness, goodness, joy, kindness, love, modesty, patience, peace, and self-control. Relationships are hard work, they don’t just happen. I’m constantly working on my relationship with God (and ya, sometimes I fail). I’m not perfect, but like any father, my Father forgives me when I fail and encourages me to try again… and He’s a good sport. If I fail the test He’ll offer it again and again until I get it right (and sometimes, I’ll get to take a test I’ve already passed over again haha)

What happened at Timbers is “church”. It’s not “God”. So, if in all of this mess, you’re doubting God’s love, don’t. God’s love is perfect and it never fails.

4 Comments on “God is not “church””

  1. Isn’t that the truth………….God is God and we are not! I don’t believe this was of God,I believe that this was of man. Paul’s appointment was from God.He was hand-picked by God.God does not make mistakes, people do. I just pray that peace will come out of this.You are a wonderful daughter Joelle and your parents are very proud of you! I pray for courage and strength for your family❤

  2. So very well said! Your words are what so many feel and know, but are not able to put into print. Please don’t stop! Love you . . . .

  3. Thanks for sharing from the heart. A dear friend of mine was struggling with the “politics of church” and was even considering not getting baptized as a result. I was going to say to him what he should do but that would not fit the role that I play in his life. It will happen in God’s timing.

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