In Mark 2, there is a story of a paralytic man trying to get to Jesus.
Jesus is in a house teaching. Scripture tells us the house if filled to the brim with people. There is a huge crowd gathering around Jesus, listening to him teach. It is a Jesus-crowd. A Jesus-gathering.
However, as the story continues, we learn there is a problem. The paralytic man is trying to get to Jesus. He wants to get to Jesus. He yearns to get to Jesus. He has friends trying to carry him to Jesus. But he cannot get to Jesus.
There is a problem.
Here is how scripture puts it: “…they [the friends] could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd…”
The problem is the crowd. The Jesus-gathering. The problem is the people who have gathered to listen to Jesus teach, but who have their back to the man yearning to get to Jesus.
This is the dramatic irony of the church. Peter tells us the church is supposed to be a royal priesthood. Priests are people who bring God to people, and people to God. They are bridge-builders between God and humanity. The dramatic (and tragic) irony is when the bridge-builders act as walls keeping people from getting to the feet of Jesus.
What about you?
Do you know someone who is having a difficult time getting to Jesus because of their interactions with the Jesus-crowd? The church?
But there is good news! In the story, there is a picture of a different church. A different Jesus-crowd. And it is the picture of the small group of friends carrying the paralytic man to Jesus.
This small band of misfits are willing to think outside the box, climb up walls, dig a hole through a roof, damage a little property, and do whatever it takes to get their friend to the feet of Jesus. Because they knew, deep in their souls, at the feet of Jesus sins are forgiven, and lives are healed.
I like *that* image of the church.