"Church should bring you joy...not suck it out of you."
I had to laugh at the above quote, on a church sign no less! As I drove past, I kept laughing. What a funny quote. And, is "suck" a church word? Cause we don't use that word at our church. (*smile*) As I continued pondering, I realized that while it's a nice thought that church should bring you joy, and mine certainly does, I don't want to attend a church that only brings me joy.
I want a church that challenges me, convicts me and pushes me to grow...sometimes even when I don't want to! In the book of John, chapter 6, Jesus preaches some hard teaching. It says many of his disciples left him that day.
On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you?" From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:60-61, 66-68
Today, so many of us want a "feel good" message and we certainly don't want a church that is going to point out our sin and challenge us to change. However, Jesus' preaching offended many, and he was willing to lose disciples over it. But those closest to him realized that only he had the words of eternal life.
So, I'm thankful for my church, which is willing to preach the hard lessons, and while it might not bring me joy on every Sunday, the end result is eternal life. And that brings true joy.
Reflection Question: Would you rather attend a church that shares an easy message each Sunday, or a church that challenges you (encouragingly) to grow?