(HT: Tim Marshall Photography)
My parents nurtured me in a church environment. I know of other environments like work and school, but the church one is something I was familiar with. As a human collective, it is something with good points and bad. The thing about church, however, is what has been written about it from its Creator.
When I got into reading about church into my late teens and taking it even more seriously as I got older, I left myself open to great disappointment when that human collective failed to match the aspirations written about it. It is at these times that I have been grateful for the writings of guys like Alan Knox, Eric Carpenter and Frank Viola about the church both as seen in scripture and as can be experienced in real life. Their insightful writing among others has kept my hope for church. It was important to do that because a lot of my actual experience of church went beyond frustration to points of despair.
This year in particular has seen the good and bad aspects of church emerging in a more prevalent manner and got me on the verge of giving up on church altogether. Why I am particularly grateful for church, though, are for those individuals who help remind me that church is not about me, it’s about being a part of the story of God. Being a witness and recipient of the amazing love of God, the channel He has given to express that is through His idea of church. My entire growth in Christ is supposed to be in the context of Christian community.
In as much as I have often wanted to walk away from it, this year has opened me up to some amazing believers who have allowed me to connect with them. Those new opportunities as well as some of the highly valued other relationships has been an inspiration to me in revealing the character of Christ and challenging me to grow deeper in Him and share that love.
So many individuals I can thank for this year helping me love the church more than I have before. I know if I started then there would be someone over the year I would forget. There are those, though, who by simply sharing the Christ in them have stirred me to pursue more of Christ to be found in His Body. For that I am forever grateful.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden