Today, I got to hang out with my best friend. Jac and I met our freshman year of college. We were in marching band together but had never spoken to each other, so when she showed up in the altar at the campus ministry I had gotten involved with, I felt obligated to go pray with her. When I asked if there was anything specific I could pray with her about, she (in her own words) word vomited on me about how lonely she was. We exchanged phone numbers, and I started making a point of inviting her to come eat dinner with my roommate and me. Over the course of the year, Jac and I became extremely close. To this day, her friendship is the most honest, loving relationship I’ve ever had with another person.
Jac’s special gift is loving people on the fringes of society. She marches to the beat of her own drum and seems to get endless delight from meeting and befriending those who don’t quite fit in anywhere else. Odd ducks flock to her like flies to honey, and she’s always happy to lend a helping hand or listening ear. I am incredibly happy to be part of her collection of weird, wonderful, wounded people.
As much as Jac loves those on the edges, she tends to be frustrated with those in the center. This is one of the reasons we get along so well. We talked quite a bit today about how we both feel God calling us to get back into spiritual community and accountability and how fearful and frustrated that makes us.
I feel incredibly conflicted about the church. On the one hand, I acknowledge the need to be a part of the body of believers. I acknowledge my own need for like-minded community, spiritual accountability, and corporate worship. On the other hand, I have a lot of concerns about how the modern church operates. I question whether the church in its current incarnation is really a place where I can be vulnerable enough to benefit from community and accountability. And I wonder whether I can really, in good conscience, support a system that I see as so deeply and dangerously flawed.
I’ve been praying about this a lot lately, mostly hoping that God will tell me I don’t have to do it, but instead I keep being drawn back to the story of Jesus healing the blind man with dirt and spit.* Dirt and spit are not particularly special or beautiful. You have to work pretty hard to come up with any kind of meaningful symbolism in this gesture. And yet, this is what Jesus chose to use as an instrument of healing. Each time God draws me back to this story, he reminds me that the vessel doesn’t matter. The instrument doesn’t matter. Only the will and power of God matter. If God is behind the healing, even spit and dirt can serve.
I guess I’m going to church tomorrow.
* See John 9