“again he entered the synagogue…” v.1
The next time you consider dropping out of church take a moment to consider Jesus. It seems like if anyone had a right and reason to walk away from the assembly and do his own thing, it was Jesus. It seems like every time he enters the synagogue, where the men gathered to worship every Sabbath, there was trouble. I know sometimes church folks can be hard to deal with, but think about this for a moment. His home church tried to throw him off a cliff for something he said (Luke 4), then he had to fight off a demon in the church (Mark 1), now we see Jesus healing a guy with a withered hand while the church leaders sit around and plan to kill him for it. Jesus was in the synagogue or the temple every Sabbath. He was surrounded by demons, broken people, and sanctimonious hypocrites who wanted him dead. Now I know that you may have had your share of run ins with difficulty in church. Sometimes God’s people can get way off track and forget why the church exists. I know sometimes church folk can be downright mean. Some leaders think the church exists to make them successful, and the power they think they have can make them drunk, so they do and say stupid things. I should know, I’ve been a little tipsy on it myself a time or two. But before you pack your bags and renew your membership at The First Church of the Holy Mattress, think about this: Jesus is the only person in human history who is qualified to judge the church, and he died for her instead. He could have walked away from organized religion but he didn’t. He alone had every right to say, “I’m better than all those hypocrites…” but he didn’t. Despite all the broken people with their broken ways he saw something beautiful in the family of God. He loved his family even when they were calling for his crucifixion. Aren’t you glad today that the sinless one didn’t give in to spiritual pride and walk away? Perhaps as you read this you are feeling the pain that comes with being part of a faith family. Maybe you’ve battled a few demons in the sanctuary, or even been led to edge of the cliff for something you said. Jesus understands your pain. He knows what it’s like to be betrayed by a fake friend, and falsely accused by a power hungry leader. But he also knows that those broken people need a healer, a savior. He also knows that you have your own brokenness, your own delusions of greatness, your own sin. He knows that if you walk away, you may feel better, temporarily, but you will never really heal. And you will never really fulfill your purpose as a part of his body by living in spiritual isolation.
Listen, as long as human beings are on this earth there will be good and bad in the church. Jesus Christ was the only perfect church member. The rest of us are broken followers who sometimes miss it and hurt each other. But we can also heal each other if we’re willing to push through our offenses and forgive. Some say, “I want a church where Jesus is present.” Unfortunately they imagine that Jesus is only present in perfect churches. Actually, the opposite is true. In Revelation 3, Jesus is found outside the “perfect church” of Laodicea, knocking on the door to get in. If you want to go to the church Jesus attends, find one full of broken people with issues. Find one that needs his healing touch and he will be there. Jesus hasn’t stopped going to church, and neither should you. He has too much to do, and so do you. So join him this Sunday.