There is a tension that we as human beings constantly navigate through life. It is felt by every person, whether or not they choose to acknowledge it. We instinctively feel it and understand it as it presses on every thought and decision we choose to engage.
This tension is fully defined by my Christian worldview in which, as a follower of Jesus, I have come to understand that we live in a state of already/not yet.
This is the reality that we have understood the Gospel message that we have been saved through the blood of Christ, rescued from our enslavement of sin and death. This is the already.
We also understand that we have been called to live our lives in reflection of that truth with our time on this earth. This is the mandate given by God; to demonstrate what it looks like to live in the kingdom of God that is to come. This is the not yet.
Even if you aren’t a Christian, you are existing in this tension. How often are you taken aback by the fact that something seems broken in this world?
For example, have you ever stopped to think how ridiculous it is here in America that our school children routinely go through “school shooter” drills? Think about it…we are having to try and equip our children on what to do in the event someone walks into their place of academic learning and opens fire with the intent of killing as many of them as possible. This is culturally accepted now as a norm.
The flip side of that tension is this: How often are you overwhelmed by an act of such radical kindness that it stirs deep emotions from deep within?
Like when you see the images of men with boats, risking their own lives to rescue residents trapped by floodwaters after a hurricane. This stirs something within that says, “This is how it should be. This feels right.”
That is the tension we constantly live in. Our everyday lives are affected by that reality and the Gospel compels us to live in the pocket of that tension to demonstrate the love of a Father that cares for every one of His children. We are called to live this new reality out in relationship with each other.
But there is a dark side to this reality. The reality that we are a collection of broken people. And any time you bring broken things together, that is messy.
This is the heart of what I want to talk to you about today. The church, the people of God, do not do messy well. In fact, for so many of us, we have been taught to flee the messiness and retreat to a safer place of comfort.
I believe this is because the messiness has a way of confronting us with our own brokenness. When we see our brokenness clearly, it reveals just how desperately screwed up we really are.
We see our brokenness on display all of the time. Just in my own life, in the past couple of weeks, I have been confronted by this tension.
I wrote a blog post where I told a personal story about the reality of sin in my own life. What encouraged some people to write me and thank me for sharing that truth were the same words that caused others to write and attack me for having some sort of malicious agenda.
We are planting Reconcile Church here in Charlotte. We want to be a church that is focused on being exactly what God intended us to be: a community of people who are living out the truth of the Gospel as a family on the mission to show others the beauty of Jesus.
But we are often prone to forget that calling and fall back into selfish ways. There have been moments in the past, and even now, where we seem more concerned about how people aren’t meeting our needs than asking how can we meet other’s.
The last thing my city needs is another building full of inward-focused people who have no desire for Jesus or genuine care for those around them. That is what has gotten the American church in the predicament it is in now. An institution that has lost all respect and goodwill from the people on the outside because we have failed at the mission God gave us.
The church has for too long now been like an absentee father, wanting to exert its authority over people but never demonstrating any real presence or genuine care for their lives.
We believe that if our community can see a tangible expression of people who love Jesus and are devoted to Him with their whole lives, love each other with radical selflessness, and love their neighbors without qualification or expectation of return, Reconcile Church can be a cherished part of east Charlotte.
But we have felt led to not only seek to be that kind of community, we also desire to reflect the community God has placed us. We are intentionally seeking to reflect the diversity of our city: ethnically, culturally, socio-economically, and generationally.
This is a monumental task that we know only God can do. To unite a group of people so radically different has been the most difficult thing I have witnessed in my entire life.
We have seen the collision of cultural realities of racism and privilege stir up difficult emotions within our community, challenging us as to what it looks like when I am called to love someone I disagree with.
We have seen the challenges that happen when you are trying to live as a family with people who are in vastly different life stages, economic classes, and affinity groups. It feels like we are constantly battling an inertia hell-bent on tearing us apart.
We have experienced the harsh reality of what happens when people are more concerned with what the “community” should be for them, instead of selflessly seeking to meet others where they are. We struggle constantly thinking that if they don’t do “family” like me, then they are doing it wrong.
The picture I am hoping to paint for you is that we are a group of broken people who are struggling every day to try and navigate that already/not yet tension and failing often.
Because I have learned that the flip side of that darkness is that it is all worth it!
I love the brokenness that is Reconcile Church and the family of people God is weaving together because I am reminded daily that we are in desperate need for someone who can step in and bridge those gaps for us to become a real family.
I love the fact that we are seeing the beauty of brokenness that God uses to teach us about forgiveness, mercy, and grace.
I love the reality of knowing I am going to have to discipline my heart to choose love when I feel the pull towards canceling people.
I love the reminder that this group of people bring me that what we are pursuing is something that is worthy of our effort and will produce glory for a God who loved us that way.
I love that this is going to teach us how to love those outside our church with the same compassion and authenticity that Jesus demonstrated throughout His life on Earth.
I look forward to being a part of a church that doesn’t flee at the first sight of difficulty, but runs head on into the messiness and brokenness that is so desperate to see a light of hope.
Brokenness is a gift that is given to remind us that there is One who has the power and authority to mend broken things together and create them into something new.
We have been given the privilege to declare this good news to all of those around us and to live out the reality of what is to come.
Embrace the tension. Enter the mess.
There is beauty to be discovered.