Do you ever feel more loved by God than by God’s people? Ever feel like it’s hard to experience deep belonging in church?
If you and I open the door to Jesus’ presence again and again—and if that door is held open long enough—we just might begin to learn that we are Jesus’ beloved. That word earlier this week, and the meme from Henri Nouwen, spoke to you…and to me.
Is it possible to experience that belonging, that belovedness, in our earthly relationships, in church?
The church can be for us a place of belonging, can become home for the beloved children of God we are, if we see the church with the same grace we have received from Jesus’ presence. A popular bumper sticker says, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” God perceives us as we are, despite our sinful failures to live perfectly, in His image (Rom. 8:29). He sees that Christ is our life, that we are “…being renewed in knowledge after the image of (our) creator” (Col. 3:10). And so God invites us to build a nest, to offer a home for the beloved, to “…clothe (ourselves and our churches) with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…(to) forgive each other just as the Lord has forgiven (us)…” (Col. 3:12,13, italics mine). He invites us to see each other with grace, to see through the coarse and crusted, sometimes sinful stains on our clothing, to the beautiful, wonderful heart of Christ beating within.
If we don’t always experience the same love from God’s people that we know from God, we can still see each other with the love with which God continuously says to us, “You are my beloved.”
And then we might…we just might find that we have helped to build, for ourselves and others, a home for the beloved, a real church.