True or False:
The Church is a shelter when the storms of life confront us?
I would argue both true and false. First the false.
Too often when we think of “church” we think of a building. Pews. Stained glass windows. A pulpit. However, buildings are cold. In fact I have yet to be in a church that doesn’t feel sterile. As far as churches go, they are often empty most of the week, but become filled with life on the weekend. But when it comes down to it, a church is the same as any other building. It has walls, a roof, plumbing, and electricity. It protects those inside from the elements and gives an alternate atmosphere when conditions outside are unfavorable. As you can tell, there are definite possibilities for symbolic life lessons. But a church is still just a building. The only reason a church is special is that it has been “set aside” for a special purpose. Church buildings are often prayed over and consecrated for sacred purposes, and thereby considered “sanctuaries” or “sacred spaces.” The stained glass windows are meant to inspire the viewers into the impression that God has joined them in this place. But can a church building comfort us when the storms of life confront us? Not at all. The only comfort that can be gained would have to come from something else.
The truth is, church is people. It always has been. Anytime people talk about “the church,” they’re really talking about people who have a shared vision, belief, and purpose. This shared togetherness is supposed to be called community. Sadly too many churches are just buildings with people and not a strong sense of community. When the storms of life hit, is the church (people) really there for the people (church)? In his book Connecting, Larry Crabb says “I have come to believe that the root of all our personal and emotional difficulties is a lack of togetherness… tears without an audience, without someone to hear and care, leave the wounds unhealed. When someone listens to our groanings and stays there, we feel something change inside us. Despair seems less necessary; hope begins to stir where before there was only pain.” This authentic community is difficult to make a reality. It takes time, trust, and togetherness. Three “T’s” that are difficult to come by in the modern world. We have become fiercely individualistic and sort of like it that way.
So back to the question, “True or False: The church is a shelter when the storms of life confront us?” The answer depends on what you make of your own church. You are the church, so you get to decide what the church is in your own community. You choose your own priorities. You choose your own goals. You choose what to focus on in your own life. This will spill over to the company you keep, choose those wisely too. If you want the church to be a shelter when the storms of life confront others, you have to be a shelter yourself first.
Choose to be a shelter to those you can protect and encourage. Be that safe place to those in need.