I CONFESS, I LOVE THE CHURCH!
I love being part of the church, and I love going to church. I love to worship God. I love being part of the congregation that sings and gives glory to God. I love hearing good sermons. I love taking communion and celebrating the sacraments. I love watching a new believer being baptized. I love hearing the Scripture read out loud (especially when it is read well), and I love to hear someone pray with faith and passion.
I love hearing a familiar hymn, and I love learning a new one, (especially when it is done well) and the melody is singable. I love hearing great voices sing the truth of the Gospel, and a great Gospel choir can just blow the breath out of me. I am amazed at the gifts God gives his church especially in our musicians. I love being made to think about Jesus, and I yearn to be convicted, to hear the Word of God brought home to my heart and applied to my life. I love seeing the Scriptures opened up and seeing new insights and being exposed to the wisdom of God that I had passed over and missed.
I love to be reminded that God loves me, and I love hearing that God has power that I had forgotten to believe in and put my trust in. I love hearing testimony and hearing about the a work of grace in someone’s life. I love watching my wife lift her hands in worship, and I love being in a pew with my family and swaying while we sing, lifting our hands, and realize this is the faith of our family and we mean it when we praise.
I love the Lord’s Table, and I love it when the suffering of Jesus is remembered, and we are reassured that our sins are paid for, that his blood and his righteousness covers me. I am sobered when I am warned of my sins, and I am moved to confess once again, and glad to know that nothing, absolutely nothing can separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus my lord. I love it when the table is administered in a fresh and sincere way, where it isn’t just a perfunctory distribution, but where the joy of The Lord comes down and the saints sing in praise as we move toward the end of the celebration.
I love to see the saints, to be hugged, to see someone else I’m glad to see be glad to see me. I love it when I hear and see the church band and realize how much work they have put in to lead us on this day. Oh how I love a good sermon, when the illustrations just make the Word explode in my understanding. I love to be moved in my heart to believe God more than I do. I love to see a preacher moved by his own sermon and I love to see his heart break in front of the congregation.
I love to see elderly women who never seem to miss a Sunday and light up when I come over to get my hug and rejoice in their love of God, and to realize that coming to church is one of their great joys. I love it when I see teen-agers stepping out in faith and learning how to put the Truth in their own words. I love seeing families bringing their children to church, holding their babies, men holding the hands of their wives, sitting together and both holding Bibles. I love seeing the church rise up to meet a challenge, whether to go out to throw a block party for a poor neighborhood, or to send a team to respond to a disaster, or to send out folks on a mission trip, or to put on a Vacation Bible School. I love it when the people volunteer and respond and we realize more came in, or more stood up than we expected.
I love it when someone we thought was lost, someone who was excommunicated, someone we thought hated us, comes back and is restored. I love it when young men who used to run with gangs, sell drugs, and hurt people now worship and are hungry to learn more of God. I love it when women who used to give away their bodies now live godly and circumspect lives and no one around them has any idea how wild their lives used to be. Strange though this sounds, I love it when we have to watch somebody die of some wretched disease and see their constancy, their faith, their hope of everlasting life and though it destroys all of us, though the pain is almost overwhelming to watch their passing and the grief of their families, we stand together and celebrate in the moment of death the great victory of our God over death. I love to see the saints united in hope.
I love to hear the side stories, of someone paying a visit at just the right time. I love hearing about how a bill was paid, a need was met, a sin confessed, a person forgiven, a friendship restored. I love it when some sins are stood up to and not passed over, not simply accepted in the congregation but rebuked, and I love it when the church stands by its convictions though everyone is frightened and no one knows how things will turn out, except that we seek to obey God no matter the cost to ourselves. And I love it when God vindicates his people. I love it when the saints reject self-righteousness, when they won’t tolerate gossip, and when they pursue reconciliation. I love it when God makes people honest, including myself, and makes us take the risk of loving each other through our faults.
I love going to church, being part of the church, being loved by the church, being prayed for by the church, being watched by the church, being encouraged and cheered on by the church. I love being a part of the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, the Building of God, the Flock over which the Good Shepherd leads and watches, the salt of the earth, the light of the world, the context of discipleship, the doer of good among the poor. I love not being alone and looking forward to the City where nothing evil enters and the Lamb is its light and the leaves of the Tree of Life are for the healing of the nations. I don’t know what your experience has been like, but with all our mess I can say, I’m glad The Lord brought me in, into the house of God.