What comes to mind when you think of “church”? Chances are, the images are as varied as the people reading this. For some, these are positive images filled with lovely memories that include so many beautiful and significant moments from your life. For others, it is filled with painful memories of difficult relationships and ugly incidents. You are left hurt and disillusioned by even mentioning the word church.
Some of you were given the prosperity gospel and told that being a Christian was going to be a life of victory: God’s designed route to earthly happiness, a new, divine power that would solve all of your problems and make you healthy, wealthy, and wise. Then, when the promises didn’t seem to work the way they were supposed to, the church put it back on you and in essence said that you’re “not doing it right.”
Then, when your expectations were not met and Christianity seemed not to deliver on its promises, you think, I “gave it a shot” and Christianity “failed to deliver.” Then to make matters worse, the people around you turned their backs on you because you weren’t doing it right. Now you don’t just feel disappointed, you feel betrayed and conned. You are deeply confused and angry about church in general. Please recognize that being hurt by church does not excuse your sin and your need for Christ.
And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
– Acts 2:42-47 ESV
It would be so wonderful if this was all of the story for the early church, which we sometimes mistakenly think it is. The problem is that there was hypocrisy, financial deception, fights over food and money, pastoral failure, the martyrdom of Stephen, the persecution and inquisition of the Apostle Paul, the expulsion from Jerusalem in chapter eight—all of the drama, tragedy, and challenge, not just a wonderful sense of togetherness and the fruit of fellowship.
So, let's be honest when we speak about church and remember what Lecrae said:
Yeah she may look gritty
When her man come back she gone look so pretty
She the Church
You might see her acting crazy,
be patient with her tho cause she still God's baby
She the Church
Before you dis her get to know her,
Jesus got a thing fo her and died just to show her
She the Church
She ain't bricks and buildings
She all of God's people Men women and children