Don’t misunderstand my title. By “The Whole Church,” I don’t mean “the entire church.” I mean the church made whole. The broken church you and I are members of – transformed. The carnally-inclined church where we worship, healed and holy.
But brother Don, our church isn’t “broken” or “carnally-inclined.” You ought to see them when they come to service every week. They’re smiling. They radiate. Their hair is combed (except Eddie; he’s 9). They smell good. They look like they haven’t sinned all week.
Don’t be misled. A dozen or so years ago Ruth Graham, Billie and Ruth’s third daughter, wrote a book which she titled, “In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart.” And she’s right. In the book she is also painfully transparent. She describes how, as the daughter of arguably the most visible Christian leader on earth, she felt compelled to hide the infidelity in her marriage, divorce, the drugs, all the while with an everything-is-going-well-thanks smile on her face. In every pew sits a broken heart was her testimony.
Let me put a corner-marker in the ground right here if I may… One of my mentors when I was a fledgling pastor told me, “Speak to the broken and you’ll always have an audience.” I have found that to be invaluable counsel through the years not just as a pastor but as a Christian, because in every pew sits a broken heart.
We are aliens by birth and sinners by choice. The world is so much with us. We know that and we cry out against it. Even in our music – “Take away our bent to sinning,” we plead. “I Need Thee Every Hour…” We know that. Even the Apostle Paul, at one point in his life was led to admit, “I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” (Rom 7:19 NLT) There is apt to be someone sitting not far from you this week who is wrestling with those same thoughts. Make sure they don’t slip out of church without a hug and a prayer.
Which leads me to ask, How recently have you summoned the courage to speak to someone after service and following the usual pleasantries, said something like, “Is there anything you’d like for me to pray about for you this week?” That’s how a church moves toward wholeness. We come to listen and be shaped by the Word, to sing His praises, to confess our sins and adore Him as we bow in His presence. And to embrace each other lavishly as purveyors of the value He places on us, no matter our story.
By Don Jacobsen