Love and Disgust for the Church

I am sure that many of us deeply love the body of Christ and at the same time, loathe it. The way the church behaves makes us want to cringe and vomit (but we’d have to admit of and consequently gag over our own sin and misbehavior too).

I cringe nearly everyday. Dry heave. Throw up bile.

The advent of social media allows me to hear of and see of things I would’ve been ignorant about ten years ago. I am sick over things associated with Christ’s church. I want to run and hide. I want to apologize. And I want to disassociate myself.

The more I think of it, the more I think deeply about it, I am driven insane. It’s an insanity of wonder over God’s love for us. How can he love and serve us when minute by minute we heap abuses upon his name, when we like the Roman soldiers, pluck the hairs out of his beard and spit in his face? How in the universe could he say to us and about us, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do?” How can he be madly in love with us when we sequester and quench his divine Spirit-life?
I don’t know.

We deserve to be destroyed. But there is an incomprehensible grace. He redeems us. It is beyond understanding and deserving.

And everyday I am filled full. Everyday, I walk around in wide-eyed wonder because of God’s deeply good and beautiful and loving character and because of the beauty of his church.

In no other place have I spotted the most beautiful, brightest, morning stars in all of creation. I’ve happened upon them in the church. The love and goodness and beauty I see keeps me within the church’s embrace and gazing at the face of Christ. I know all this goodness, it’s real. And all the distortion and sin and evil is not God or of him. It will fade away. It’s temporarily, sometimes seemingly eternally real.

The church. It’s all a deep mystery of goodness and of evil and of beauty and of the ugliest ugliness. In the end, we know that the good and the true and beautiful–the holy, will manifest itself and that every form of evil will be gone.

But it hasn’t left yet and I can’t ignore the evil or the things I loathe in the present. Therefore I am driven to prayer and action and a search for the wisdom of God.

Carlo Carretto shares some of these same sentiments. He writes:

How baffling you are, oh Church, and yet how I love you! How you have made me suffer, and yet how much I owe you! I should like to see you destroyed, and yet I need your presence. You have given me so much scandal and yet you have made me understand sanctity. I have seen nothing in the world more devoted to obscurity, more compromised, more false, and I have touched nothing more pure, more generous, more beautiful. How often I have wanted to shut the doors of my soul in your face, and how often I have prayed to die in the safety of your arms. No, I cannot free myself from you, because I am you, although not completely.

And where should I go?”

~An excerpt from The  God Who Comes by Carlo Carretto found in A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants (Upper Room Books)

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