The church is often compared to a family. Families are all different, ranging from near-perfect, over healthy, to strained, and dysfunctional. Unfortunately, churches are not all that different. It becomes apparent when you notice a striking contrast between different ones.
Of course no church is perfect, but I have been feeling more and more at home at the wonderful Fox Valley SDA Community Church in Sydney. Recently, the pastor’s wife sadly passed away after a prolonged period of illness. But amidst mourning, the reaction from the church body was magnificent. The members took care of this family in ways unimaginable and even paid the airfares for some of her family to come visit her from overseas. Even to a visitor the warmth of this church is evident.
This is in stark contrast to other churches I know of (naming them will serve no purpose). I know of cases when pastors’ families are going through crises but the church conciously decides to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Virtually killing off its members seems to have become a pastime for some churches.
How come? There is probably no simple answer. Some would say we need more of your choice of love, the Holy Spirit, fellowship, passion, commitment, etc. All can be true, but neither should turn into hobby-horses.
But on the subject of love, I think a church will never be healthy if it does not like spending time together. Talk of Christian Love may even lead to all kinds of excuses as to what not to do. We have to actually LIKE each other as people. That’s what Jesus did. And He’s the only one that can help us if we’re struggling with dislike or hate. Because any solution will inevitably begin also with ourselves. Not excluding me.