The Church can be beautiful. I am as sad as anyone at the behavior and divisions that can come from organized religion. For anyone that follows things like that, and I do a little bit, the last week has produced news about these divisions in the form of the presidential inauguration and who will or won’t be praying at the presidential inauguration and what one, specific belief they hold in order to qualify or be disqualify them to do so. But the Church can be beautiful. It pains my heart to see friends being pushed from organized religion, But the Church CAN be beautiful.
1 John 4:21 – “And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
It is in fulfilling this command that we see the true beauty of the Church and not the often times pettiness of the church.
Yesterday I met a child that was obviously closer to death than any child I have ever seen before. At six months old he looked like there was nothing holding him to this world other than the life in his eyes and the little bit of food he would occasionally keep down. His mother, HIV positive, died when he was three weeks old. And his lack of nourishment from that point on is obvious in his skeletal frame, and lack of activity. Kaleb was with us, and his strength, active smiles, and size (even though Kaleb is only in the 10th percentile for growth) made a strong contrast to the unhealth of this child. But the Church can be beautiful. The Church was made beautiful yesterday in the faith of the people caring for this child. They don’t have the tools, medicine, equipment, or even all the food they need to care for Jacob, but they ARE still feeding him, still caring for him, still trying to keep this child alive. At one point in history he probably would have been left outside to die with no mother to love him unconditionally. And in some other places maybe that still happens. These people though have faith, even when hope may be low. They have faith that this child, loved by our Father, is worthy of trying to help live. That is why today the Church was beautiful. Faith often succeeds where hope and rationality does not.
The Church was beautiful today in the unshed tears of my wife, of the friend that was with us, and the love that will motivate their actions in the coming weeks to see what help we can find for this child. The Church is always made beautiful by the faith of individuals, the love of the few, that works together sometimes across barriers of race, language, and culture, to make evident the love of a weeping God for a broken world. The Church is made beautiful when the strong actions of individuals are passed on from one to another until love is able to be shown to those unloved, unwanted, unaccepted, uncared for by the world. That is the body of Christ that keeps us in our work, despite the divisions, mistakes, and sins of a sometimes broken church culture or church organization. Knowing that it is the small lights and NOT the large fires that will keep the world warm and safe for children like Jacob and children like Kaleb.