You can't enjoy anything these days without someone making you feel guilty about it. Like, say you like a movie. Some Debbie or Desmond Downer is going to say something like, "But it only has 55% on Rotten Tomatoes!" Well guess what, Downer? I like Tomorrowland and I don't care what your precious Tomatometer says about it. How do you like that?
(Seriously, Tomorrowland is vastly underrated in my opinion.)
As I have been watching the Olympics these last couple of weeks, it's hard to ignore the seedy underbelly of the games. People will be quick to point out the rampant commercialism of the Olympics. Or the corruption that has been associated with IOC. Others will remind that thousands of men, women, and children on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum were displaced from their neighborhoods to build sporting venues that will likely sit vacant after the flame is extinguished. How could you like the Olympics?
Yet I love it. I love seeing the greatest athletes in the world gather to see who can run the fastest, jump the highest, and swim the swiftest. I love the flags and random bits of geo-political trivia. I love the underdog stories, the profiles in determination, and the legends being born. It's the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
I guess what I am saying is that I enjoy the Olympics for what it points to perhaps more than for what it is. I love the idea of nations peacefully gathering together to compete. I love the ideals of sportsmanship, determination, and unity to which the Olympic spirit appeals. It is true that there is much even in these games that compromises those ideals. But when those moments happen--when you see someone achieve something that makes your jaw drop, when you witness a person persevere in spite of enormous pain, when you see an athlete reach down to help a competitor--it's something awesome.
In a way that is why I stick with the Church too. We have a history of shortcomings, scandals, prejudice, and a love of power spread over two thousand years. As the oft-repeated confession goes: we do not love God with our whole entire heart and we don't love our neighbors as ourselves. With the ways in which we stumble around it could be quite easy to dismiss the whole enterprise. How could you like the Church?
And yet the Church points to something unseen. Or, perhaps better stated, something we need help seeing. It shines a light on the Kingdom of God breaking though all over the earth. It points towards those places where love and hope, grace and goodness spring forth. You can hear it In song. You can sense it in a loving community. You can taste it in communion. You can feel it as people reach out to one another. You can witness it in the story of a life changed. You can see it when the hungry are fed, the lonely are cared for, and the good news is spoken.
Those moments when the unseen is seen are the reason that I carry on. It's the hope that keeps me going. It is why I love the Church. Even though it is flawed and full of broken people, there are those moments when the Kingdom of God touches the ground. And it's something awesome.