When I was younger my parents got divorced. I’m not entirely sure how old I was, probably in my early teens. My mum, by Gods grace, held things together for her four kids, but it was not without difficulty. Within that environment there was inherent dysfunction, as our family was operating without a father/husband. I normalized in such an environment, which had profound implications for me as I grew up and began working within other groups.
I found that my understanding of how I fitted into a team context was slightly off. Sometimes I was able to work well in a team, at other times I found I was beset with anxiety about my performance and identity. I could become jealous of someone I was working with, I could become obsessive about someone else and what they were doing.
Early on, it was the school soccer team. As I grew older I began to work, and that environment was a team-based environment too. Growing older still, I was involved in church teams, serving or leading in some capacity. I found that, in regards to these teams, my thought life was often unhealthy. Anxiety. Worry. Insecurity. Fear. These were all things I experienced on a daily basis.
NO MAN IS AN ISLAND
In reality, teams are everywhere. From the most fundamental team (the family - mom, dad, brother and sister) right through to teams centered around profession, hobbies and religion. Humans work together, often by necessity. Yet there can be so many things that cause our groups to become ugly - jealousy, pride and laziness to name a few.
In urban centers, things can be even more intense. Here in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, we’re approximately 80,000 people crammed into a little over 2 square miles. That’s a lot of people, in not a lot of space! Teamwork is inescapable.
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL TEAM
There is one group environment that brings true redemption. One team that operates with profound beauty. Historically, Christians have identified this team as ‘The Trinity’. As we’ve seen God move through history we’ve seen him operate from three ‘natures’ - God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. All God. Yet three. Always unified, acting with common purpose.
Yet it was the Son who became human, not the Spirit.
It was the Father who sent the Son into the world, not the reverse.
It is the Spirit that fills followers of Jesus, not the Father.
Throughout history the Father, Son and Spirit have all been playing essential roles as the grand narrative moves forward.
This Trinitarian team is saturated with truth, hope and love. They work perfectly together. Those of us who have tasted of this glorious harmony and drunk deeply of its overflow have been forever changed.
We’ve found that we’re drawn to each other, to create a culture of heaven on earth. We find our hearts beat for restoration, wholeness and health for every culture on earth. That which God had within himself is now spread abroad. He is making all things new.
This group God has birthed on the earth he has also named. His Church.
BUT CHURCH ISN’T BEAUTIFUL!
Perhaps you saw this coming. Or perhaps not. Perhaps you’re shocked at this. If you’re shocked, I’m not surprised! I’ve found that the groups associated with church can sometimes be the most dysfunctional.
Often formality and ‘keeping the ministry running’ replace genuine relationship.
Often church leaders abuse their spiritual authority, pressuring members into lifestyle choices they aren’t ready to make.
Often teams operating within the church can be just as dysfunctional as others in the wider society.
When this is the case it’s especially damaging, as the church is the one group that should operate with compassion, humility, selflessness and grace.
THE APPLE I ATE WAS ROTTEN, I’M NEVER EATING FRUIT AGAIN
If you ate a rotten apple, would you resolve never to eat fruit again? That’s what it’s like when someone leaves the church because of some pain that was caused. I’ve seen this happen many times, and it’s always sad. Sad because of the original issue, and sad because of the affected’s response.
That there are dysfunctional churches shouldn’t shroud the truth:
Wholeness and health come from having an amazing body. The church.
I’ve found that as I’ve shared my life with other believers, joining with them in a local church, God has made me new. The negativity I carried forward from my childhood, from those formative years that I referred to earlier, has been (in time) redeemed.
I’ve been changed as friends have spoken grace over me. They’ve reminded me of Gods love and affection for me. Truth has been spoken to me and those who spoke it have stuck around long enough to see that truth embedded deep in my character - so that what I think and what I do are affected. I’m a changed man - through a direct work of God but also through Gods indirect work, as others have been there for me and helped me through life.
There is another word that perhaps more appropriately describes how members of this ‘great body’ relate to each other: Family.
Here at Christ Central, in Bay Ridge Brooklyn, we’re a growing family.
Fathers and mothers.
Sons and daughters.
Brothers and sisters.