I find myself having a the same conversation with a lot of different people about being hurt by the church. Sometimes it's members of my church, sometimes its from people sharing their story of another church.
As a pastor,I have no dissolutions about the church. And anyone who is a long standing member of Christ’s church will agree with me... Church life is a messy business. Life is messy, both inside and outside the church and the church doesn’t function very well much of the time. But, is this God's fault? It is, what it is, so let's not kid ourselves about the nature of the church and our sinful nature. There is nothing new under the sun. It was the same for Israel in the OT as it is for us today in the church. We hinder the work of God at every turn. So, what do we do when we find ourselves on the receiving end of the sin ledger?
We can complain, point fingers, make accusations, leave the church or a multitude of other things. But, what should we do? I think it is helpful to recall Christ’s words from the Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5:12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Who were they? The ones who persecuted the prophets? They were the people of Israel, not other nations. If we expect the church to be without sin and strife, the deception is just as great as us believing that we ourselves are without sin.
Praise God that our hope is not the church, our hope is Christ, in the church. The only redeeming thing about the church is that Christ is in it. Our hobbies, escapes, possessions, entertainments…etc can be redeemed by God, but they come to us spoiled, and don’t proclaim the good news of our salvation. His love does however, miraculously emerge from time to time, through faithful, God fearing saints, who by the grace of God have been nurtured in this same church. His love miraculously breaks through despite the dysfunctional, sin laden state of Christ’s body.
Christ's love may come from one person as a word of encouragement, or from another as a revelation of God’s truth that is heard above the fray. His love came through the people of Israel, despite their great sins, and God accomplished his work on the cross. And our great assurance is that he will also accomplish all his purposes through the church. It is truly a mystery, how God continues to use the church- his sinful children, to proclaim his truth. Oh that we would be more faithful in carrying it out.
It is sometimes easy to get into a weird kind of blame game in the church. I’ve observed it and I have been guilty of it. Our great adversary, the devil, works us from both sides. He assists us in sinning against one another, by breaking God’s commands, always taking more notice of someone elses sin than our own, and then he causes us to find fault in Christ’s “Church.” Satan two, God zero, just the way he likes it. We can break the cycle by being obedient to the Lord of the church, admitting and confessing our own sin, and forgiving others who have sinned against us. (Sounds like a familiar prayer we say together in church doesnt' it?)
None of us come to the church sinless. We all contribute to its current state. We only make it worse by becoming bitter or angry at “the church”. There are a lot of people in the world that have isolated themselves from Jesus, because of the failures of the people in the church. There are others who go from church to church looking for one that loves more pure. They find one…, for a time, until the honeymoon ends and discover that yes, this church is as bad, as the last.
Believers have to remember that it’s not Christ in the church that hurts us, but the sinful people in the church that cause such great harm. We must guard our hearts, and be careful to forgive and not become bitter, because we most certainly have hurt others in Christ’s church with our sins. Not only will the Lord reward us for this, but the church we attend will become one with love a bit more pure.
Wayne's Worldview is a place to share my unique perspective of the world as formed from my interpretation of the scriptures and my experience as a Christian. As a pastor, I am asked a lot of questions about current issues, life dilemmas, personal problems, politics, biblical interpretation...etc.I offer these "How I see it" thoughts in effort to challenge people to think about their worldview, and to stimulate good conversations that will help us become more whole.
Welcome to the conversation.
Welcome to the conversation.