Read Ephesians 4:15-16
15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. (NLT)
The church is two apparently contradictory things at once. It is a safe place, a refuge to which we gladly come as life confronts us with all sorts of things we would rather not face. It is also an uncomfortable place where we are challenged and provoked to become more soundly converted, conforming more closely to the model of Jesus.
I go to a church not just to be comforted but to become uncomfortable with the way I am and the way the world is. I go to church not just to be challenged to change and grow but also to be consoled by being reminded that God accepts me just as I am. Others in the church are there to both place an arm around my shoulder and give me a kick in the pants.
A church which seeks only to be ‘nice’ will not speak the truth about God and me. And so it will not be truly loving. A church which seeks only to batter me relentlessly with correct doctrine will become my adversary and my punisher. Truth and love may be uneasy companions at times, but they are not incompatible.
A healthy church is an expression of that old saying: “God sent his Spirit into the world to disturb the comfortable and to comfort the disturbed.”