About three years ago, I walked into church for the first time. Led by a lad I had met only half an hour before, I followed promises involving free hot chocolate and cake. I remember walking into that evening guest service and being told by my new friend, ‘don’t worry if there’s people putting their hands in the air during the worship, they’re just…expressing their love…you don’t need to do that.’ I then sat and listened to a guy at the front with an Australian accent tell me about a guy who lived 2,000 years ago who claimed to be God as a guy next to me occasionally muttered, ‘yes’ and ‘amen’.
Safe to say, church can be a bit strange for the newcomer, mainly because Christians are a bit weird. I don’t mean that in a derogatory or negative way, but really honestly, they are. I struggled for the first year of my faith with the thought that, ‘no single person can be this kind and giving, so no way is there a couple of hundred people with that heart’. There had to be something fake about how welcoming these Christians were, and while I eventually came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour, I still struggled with His church. I could understand people outside the church, they made sense to me: they had their own ambitions and goals, and many of them were self-sacrificing for the sake of a ‘greater good’, but it was rare that someone would genuinely put themselves ‘out’ if they had nothing to gain from it. So why were these Christians offering to feed me after church on a Sunday? Why were people willing to stand with me in prayer in the cold after a cell group meeting? Why oh why did I keep getting fed hot chocolate?? What did they want from me??
It sounds ridiculous, I know, but those thoughts haunted me for a long time, and occasionally they still do. I am constantly overwhelmed by how loving, giving and self-sacrificing this community can be. I occasionally have to remind myself that they don’t have an ulterior motive for being this way, but that in being disciples of Jesus, this is the way we are called to live. Not only that, but we are a family.
Here’s the moment that made me realise that: the moment I realised I had become one of those weirdos. And that led to the moment that I thanked God with all my heart for the family of weirdos I have; this family that lifts me up when I’m down, encourages and challenges me to grow, and has at the heart of it the grace of a Father whose love is never-ending and knows no boundaries.
I thank God for the Intern team, staff and congregation at Kings, for His Church all around the world, and for the fact that every day He is calling more and more people to be the wonderful weirdos joining this family.