I started crying today in church. Not during a song. Not during a sermon. But a video. In fact I write this as I sit in the back of the auditorium of the middle school my church is renting out. I started to get teary- eyed watching the video about our new building….our dream coming true. I’ve only been going to my church here in TN for a year now. I’ve only been around these people for a year. But in a year I have seen something that is rare and authentic and true.
Currently we are in a school because we simply could not fit in our building anymore. So many new families, couples, kids, singles, soldiers, and more. So many people who have been coming to this church not because it has good music (it does), not because it has a funny preacher with great sermons (it does), not because it has a community (it does). People have been coming here because Jesus has changed their lives through this church.
It’s not a life-change forced by rules and doctrine. It’s not a life-change because you need to live a certain way. It’s life-change that has been brought on because people have found truth, life, redemption, restoration, and freedom in Jesus- his love and forgiveness.
So why was I getting a bit emotional? As the video aired this morning showing a glimpse of the new sanctuary and the many more chairs, tears came to my eyes. Think of the people…the people that can come to know who Jesus is because we as a church are making room for them. Think of the people who might find freedom from addiction, help in their marriages, wholeness in healing, family in their loneliness, community in isolation, identity in their confusion. Jesus loves every single one of us so much that he died for you and for me. He died to bring forgiveness and restoration to anything could face. Your past doesn’t define you and your mistakes don’t disqualify you. Jesus loves you! Jesus loves the people who will fill those yet-to-be-built empty chairs. Jesus loves the struggling single, the suicidal soldier, the crumbling marriage of the couple who feels hopeless, the awkward and adorable children, the stripper from the local club, the police officer, the teacher, the homeless, the transgender, the gay, and the whoever else might find theirself in those seats.
Those empty chairs, the dream coming to fruition, is God’s heart. Not to be a bigger church or have a larger building. Not to have a name or nortoriety. Not to have it all. But to be a place of small and humble beginnings that God used to bring people in wholeness, fullness, healing and hope in Jesus Christ. A place that reaches a city and an Army post because every single person in this city and on that post matter. Those empty seats aren’t an expense, they’re an opportunity for someone to have their life changed because of Jesus’ love.
“Your past doesn’t define you and your mistakes don’t disqualify you”- Kelly F.