Pastor Jarrett gave an amazing description of the enduring church in last week’s sermon. I’m going to recount it here and develop it a bit.
You know when you see a billboard for a church and it has the perfect, upper-middle class couple on it with a catch phrase, welcome statement, assurances of acceptance, or a beautiful facility? You know the ones, right?
Just once, Pastor Jarrett said, I’d like to see a sign for a church that was a group of soldiers in a trench, something very WW1-ish.
It would be the kind of picture where you can feel the damp squelch of the mud, the stiffness of your shirt from blood and sweat, and smell the stench. It would bristle with guns, knives, and grenades along with the rats and fleas. Faces stare down at the camera, but wait . . . they aren’t hopeless. They are beautiful with gritty, determined confidence. Love is found in the arms braced over broad shoulders, the gentle bandage being wrapped around a wound, and the quiet tears cried for one another. Over there is a soldier with a crutch and a bandage face. Beside him sits a soldier with his arm in a sling. Another writes a letter home. Someone with a harmonica plays a song and someone eats dinner out of a tin can.
Bullets fly overhead. They raise their rifles and fire as one.
The enemy charges. The fight becomes dark and grim hand-to-hand combat with knives, bayonets, and clubs.
This is where we live. Not in that nice world on those other billboards. That is living life by sight. Life by faith is in the trenches. Hand-to-hand combat against sin. Bandaging, wounded, stinking, but confident because of grace.
An enduring church isn’t pretty or perfect. It’s a battlefield and we are fellow soldiers in the muck and mud. We must have each other’s backs. We must support and love each other, binding up wounds, wiping eyes, cleaning away the dirt.
When I get to heaven, I want to say in a heavenly way, that I wasn’t a hero in the Spiritual War we fight, but that I served in a company of heroes: my church.