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Go, Church!

28November2011

I am a Cleveland Browns fan. (Sympathy cards welcome, but not necessary.) The greatest difficulty in being a Browns fan in these latter days is not that they don’t win a lot of games, as frustrating as that is. It’s the fact that they seem to find ways…even invent ways…to lose. And most of these ways are little things…individual things…not paying attention for the moment things like dropped passes, missed blocking assignments, blown coverages, and hikes that bounce off someone else’s leg. The hard, cold truth: You can only shoot yourself in the foot so many times before you start to seriously limp.

Sometimes, I feel that way about the Church.

Now…hold on…before you get all riled up that the Body of Christ isn’t supposed to be measured by wins and losses, and God can bring good even out of defeat and frustration: Yes. I know all that, and am deeply committed to the truth of it. But I’ve also noticed that this Church in which we share is a human institution (however divinely guided), and as such is deeply afflicted with the flaws concomitant with human sinfulness.

Certainly some of these flaws are huge and glaring. History is full of major mis-steps in doctrine or the choosing of cultural power over faithfulness to the Gospel. But I’m convinced that the most prevalent and damaging miscues are the little things…the individual things…the not paying attention for the moment things like failing to greet the visitor sitting in front of you. Or discounting the great privilege of worship. Or taking your toys and going off to some other congregation when your feelings get hurt. Or not allowing the joy of God’s unconditional grace to shape our attitudes towards our family members, neighbors, and co-workers.

The work of the Church…to point always toward Christ…will not be accomplished chiefly by bigger stadiums or better programs, by soda pop giveaways or a rigid insistence on King James English. It will have profound effect as individual Christians and faithful congregations begin to live fearlessly what we profess…that the Crucified and Risen One whom we acknowledge as Lord has set us free to be God’s already Kingdom people in a not yet ready world. Of course, we will fail and fall short in our attempts to do this. But, because we can be confident about who we are and who we belong to, even our failures will not long distract from the mission of One who raises us by grace. Our visitors and family members and neighbors and co-workers will notice. And when they do, perhaps the Spirit at work in them will open their hearts to wonder and to see the God for whom we live and serve.

So…what little thing might God be calling you to execute better in your life of faith? Could that “little thing” make a difference for those around you? I’m betting that it can.

In the meantime: Go, Browns! *sigh* Go, Church! *Thanks be to God.*

DLN@CCD

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