... AND WHY I CAME BACK (Part 2 of 3)

Getting back involved in a local church was a long process.  Even when I started attending a church again I didn't get truly involved at first.  I had two serious hang-ups.

First, why should I put up with the church with all its flaws? Being involved in a church meant getting thrown together with a bunch of strangers and different kinds of people connected sometimes only by the fact that everyone there claimed to love Jesus.  Needless to say that wouldn't always be a recipe for pleasant interactions.

And second, why did I need the church, anyway? Being part of a church didn't save me. I didn't have to be part of a church to pray or read my Bible.  Why in the world would I get involved in another local church, risking all the pain, hurt, and disappointment all over again? What in the world could possibly make it worth the risk?

There are probably a lot of ways to answer both of these questions, but I want to tell you how God answered them for me.

The first answer came in a conversation with one of my spiritual mentors.  He had me read the story about Saul on the way to Damascus.  Saul (who would later become the Apostle Paul) was on his way to arrest and maybe even kill Christians when Jesus blinded him dramatically on the road there and called him as a messenger of the very message he had been trying to wipe out! My mentor asked me to read the dialogue between Jesus and Paul and tell him if anything about it seemed strange.  So I started reading.

Jesus asks Saul why Saul is persecuting Him.  Saul, very confused, asks who it is he is talking to.  Saul was certainly an enemy of these Christians, but he certainly didn't remember picking a fight with whomever this obviously powerful person was! Jesus replies, saying basically: It’s me, the One you are persecuting! What jumped out to me from the dialogue is how much Jesus loves and identifies the church.  His relationship with her is so intimate that He takes it very personally when people attack her.  I realized that basically I had been saying to Jesus, "I love you, but your wife is a useless harlot."  Not to mention, of course, that I was completely ignoring the reality that I was part of the church!  I read the New Testament with fresh eyes and was truly overwhelmed by the love Jesus has for the church.  It forever changed my perspective.  The rosy glasses were gone, and now the jaded glasses were gone, too (though I still try to slip them on from time to time).  I was starting to see the church as Jesus sees her.