You stand at the front of church and you see a sea of faces in front of you. Each one of them has a different story: some are facing questions about their career or their relationships or their future. Some are watching their partners grow more distant; others are watching their parents fade away through Alzheimer’s. Some are lonely, some are depressed; some are cutting themselves, some are throwing up their breakfast, some are figuring out the easiest way to stop the pain and slip out of this life. Some like booze too much, or money, or power.
Some are disabled, some are disgruntled, some are dismissed. Some are figuring out their sexuality and their identity; some are figuring out what to do about their cancer diagnosis; some are trying to decide if they’re safe to discuss any of this stuff with the person next to them.
Some are sitting there desperate to worship; some are desperate to get out of there; some are just desperate. Some are scared, some are oppressed, some are waiting to see if your words are going to hit them with hope or hit them with condemnation.
Some need to be forgiven, some need to forgive, some need a safe place to be angry, some need a safe place where they’re not going to be beaten. Some need permission to get the hell out of Dodge.
Some think they’re sinners while others think they’re saints, and the truth is they’re probably both. Some you love, some you like, some drive you crazy, and as you look at them you realise they’re also a mirror of the things inside you.
You look at that sea of faces and you’re faced with a choice.
You can be the one who throws a punch before twisting the knife.
You can be the one who keeps adding to the load, adding and adding and adding.
You can be the one with the most impressive PowerPoint and the most impressive platitudes.
Or you can be the one who reaches out and pulls back the curtain and helps them, and you, find hope, because you look out into that sea of faces and see Jesus in the midst of them.