A few years back, when I was still living in Pioneer days and the rest of the world had moved on to fancy-schmancy smartphones and texting, I got a Facebook message from an old friend. (Okay, so I wasn’t entirely living like a Pioneer.)
She had obviously sent it from her iPhone, but I didn’t understand that kind of thing yet, so when the message read like this: Hi, I’ve haven’t heard from you in a while. I hope you’re doing Jihad! I had no idea what had happened.
Had her Facebook account been hijacked by terrorists? Had she had a seizure while typing? What could possibly have happened to cause her brain to malfunction so bizarrely?
I had no idea how to answer her strange message and perplexed over it for days. I told other people about it, laughing all the while like an idiot. Listen to this weird message I got from my friend! Isn’t it funny? What could it possibly mean? Is she speaking in secret code?!?
Finally, someone was kind enough to break it to me gently.
“Hannah, dear,” whoever it was said, “She sent it from her phone and the autocorrect inserted the wrong word. Mine does that all the time.”
The world briefly left me behind in about 2010.
I am ever so slowly catching up.
So several days ago, I tried to send one my brothers and his wife a text. I had been thinking about them and praying for them, and I like to let people know when God has put them on my mind. (And I appreciate when others to do the same for me. Hint. Hint.)
Anyway, I used swype text, that delightful invention, because I needed to be quick about it. There were poopy diapers calling, of course.
My message read: I’ve been praying for you today and I love you Church so much.
Now I don’t know how my phone got “Church” instead of “both,” but as I fixed the typo and sent it on, a thought came to me. This is the Church.
Maybe it was from the Lord or maybe it was just my brain malfunctioning, I can’t be sure. But church and texting usually do not have anything to do with each other, except in the sense that you are generally discouraged from doing one while you’re doing the other.
However, this was a typo that actually kind of made sense.
Throughout my childhood, I knew where I was going to be every Sunday morning at 11 a.m. I sat in hard pews, and sang out of hymnals. I wore stiff dresses with big collars and ate many a potluck dinner. I listened to sermons and went to Sunday School and Training Union and summer camp.
That was not the Church.
I marveled at the cushiness when chairs replaced the pews. I rejoiced the day that someone decided it was okay to sing hymns and praise and worship music in the same setting. I replaced my dresses with an equally hideous long shorts and panty hose combo that was both unfortunate and scratchy, yet somehow still considered passable for “Sunday clothes.”
Sadly, seen here circa 1995 (my dad was awfully handsome though, wasn’t he?):
That was not the Church either.
The Church, as described in the Bible, has little to do with what building we go to or what worship style we use but everything to do with how we follow Jesus.
The Church is the body of Christ as a whole (so all-encompassing that it’s capitalized and always proceeded by “the”) and is made up of that big ol’ group of us who, across many denominations and countries and centuries, have followed and experienced and marveled at the grace of Jesus Christ.
The Church is the people who have shown up on my doorstep with the pack of diapers when I was out or delicious home-cooked meals when I had just had a baby.
It’s the people who’ve sent an encouraging e-mail, or note, or text just when I needed to hear it. They’ve helped build our fence, loaned us cars, sat with me when I just needed someone to sob on.
It’s people who don’t worship in the same building I do on Sundays, but have loved my family and me in very practical and very real ways.
I still know where I’m going to be every Sunday morning, Lord willing, but I’m there because I love the Church.
I see people there who encourage me with their presence, and incidentally have come to feel like family. I worship with others who are worshipping because God is good, not because they like that particular song. I want to be there because people who love Jesus are joyful, grateful, servant-hearted and just nice to be around.
I want to be there because I want to share life with messed up people like myself who need Jesus every single day, every single hour. Not just on Sunday.
This is the Church.