I was recently asked to write about what one should look for in a church. Initially, I found myself making a list of desired characteristics, such as a community that is genuinely welcoming and with lots of heart; that is diverse, inclusive and serious about prayer; that is concerned about and involved with the poor and oppressed, and that is passionately committed to peace. The list went on…kindness, patience, forgiveness… Then I realized that there is but one place to look for a description of what a church should be. It is to Jesus – his core teaching and the way he related to others.
Near the end of his life Jesus told his disciples what John’s gospel describes as a new commandment: “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples.”
This is a tall order. Each of us knows how difficult it is to love some people. And we know too well that loving ourselves is often easier said than done. We are aware of how prejudices can rule our hearts and resentments can destroy relationships. Loving is a big challenge.
A church closest to the true church is one that strives to love. It is a community always at work and in prayer about how to love as Jesus loves. I am grateful to be part of a church where so many are sincerely striving to reflect that love.
If there is any greatness about Marble, it is because we are a community of loving souls. And that is what I look for in a church.