Boring irrelevance or community of hope?

When I think of Church … I want to run away as fast as possible!

Peter Baker | 14:11, Sunday, 07 November 2010

When I think of Church … I imagine uncomfortable pews, standing up and sitting down a lot, appeals for money, having to dress properly, irrelevant traditions, a waste of time, hats, old ladies and flowers.

We all carry perceptions and prejudices about the Church. I did until I was in my teens. Before then I’d given it a very wide berth like the rest of my family.

Mind you, I was still taken to “St Something or others”, kicking and screaming apparently, as a three-month-old baby, for my baptism. But that was as far as my contact went.  Even at Christmas, I was reluctant to darken the doors of the rather spooky building at the top of the stone stairs.

But that all changed for me when I discovered that Church is not a pile of bricks but a community grounded in truth and love, seeking to live that out in meaningful relationships.

The truth is that we can know God through faith in Jesus.  It’s a message for people who admit, like me, that they’ve messed up by trying to live in effective independence from God, the creator of the universe. But despite that rebellion, God still loves me and offers forgiveness and a fresh start, in relationship with Him. If true, it’s a staggering claim.

Watching people work out the Christian message for themselves, as they struggle with questions, battle with anxieties and cope with pressures, I am convinced that Church can be a community of hope, instead of a boring irrelevance, where people can be authentic and committed to making a difference in the world.

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