Another Valentines Day has passed. Valentines Day can inspire us and it can disillusion us. When I look back on my Valentines Day I am struck with gratitude that my own love story with my wife (filled with both wonder and disappointment) is part of the larger love story of God and the people He loves. I am grateful for my church.
These days many people are disillusioned with the church. You’d think that pastors would be different. Aren’t we “paid” to love the church? Sadly, I’ve known too many pastors who are just as disillusioned and cynical about the church as anyone else. Like so many people who have lost faith in the church they’ve been hurt, burned, and abandoned by people in the church that they trusted.
I love my church. It’s not that I am a stranger to hurt or disappointment. My church is far from perfect. Still, my church is a refuge for imperfect and broken people like me. I am not paid to love my church. Jesus paid the cost to love me through my church.
New Life Fremont, here are some of the reasons I love you.
1) You love me for who I am.
I struggle immensely with the need to “act” like a pastor. At New Life this pressure is self-imposed. You don’t ask me to be more than I am. You appreciate my honesty about my brokenness. You give God glory that I am sinful yet forgiven. You give me a safe place to be me.
2) You love me for who Jesus is.
The real me can sometimes be disappointing. I’ve had to ask some of you for forgiveness. You have never withheld grace from me when I asked for it. You love me for who Jesus is.
3) You are loved by Jesus.
I could have made a list of things that we need to change in our church. We have a lot of room to grow. But even when you have disappointed me you have reminded me that you are loved by Jesus. Jesus doesn’t love New Life because of how great we are. Jesus loves New Life because of how great He is.
4) You make me grow.
I would not be the Christian I am today without you. I cannot trust and follow Jesus alone. I need you.
5) You inspire me.
New Life is a scary small church. We are new and unknown in the community. We are pretty homogenous although we want to be diverse. We are spread out. We have limited resources. We have accomplished more than we should expect from a church our size.
Over the last year we have almost doubled in size. Our congregation is filled with stories about changed lives. You consistently welcome unbelieving and irreligious visitors at our church. You serve sacrificially. You give generously. You endure hardship. Your partnership in the gospel is inspired.
New Life Fremont, I thank God for you.