Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Burned: Reflections on the Church

Acts 20:28
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God,[a] which he bought with his own blood.[b]

Ever been burned by the church?  Left a church or just been hesitant to go back?  Have you become cynical towards corporate worship or said along with Gandhi “I like your Christ, I don’t like your Christians [because] they are so unlike your Christ?”  Ever considered that Christ formed the church to help sanctify us?

I always find myself somewhat frustrated when people bash “the church”, especially with blanket statements and while I’ll be the first to admit a lot of this is my own sinful pride, I think some of my frustration is justified.  The church universal (Christianese Translation: All whom Christ has saved) is a bunch of recovering sinners/recovering dead people who are working to kick old habits as the love of the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit sets them apart from what they used to be.  Therefore, hanging out together is probably going to be painful!  Yeah, we’ve been made new, but we’re not perfect yet, and our imperfections bumping into each other are part of what teach and change us.  It’s not dealing with sweet people that make us patient, it’s dealing with the ones that drive us absolutely crazy! 

There is, of course, a caveat and always room for discipline.  If a local church (one part of the body) begins teaching something that goes against scripture something should be done, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be abandoned right away.  Instances like this challenge us to search the scriptures, defend what we believe, seek the Lord’s wisdom, practice humility, patience, love, and gentleness in confrontation!  Again, the church helps to sanctify us.  There comes a point when one might have to leave such a church, but this should not be done lightly.  In the same vein comes general conflict.  If someone sins against you there are very clear instructions in scripture about how to handle the situation.  Matthew 18:15 describes the process, and the goal is always reconciliation and redemption.  That’s what being part of the body of Christ is all about!  Redemption, bringing about Christ’s kingdom.

I’m not saying the Church always does things right and many, many things have been done in the name of Christ that are wrong, but I think we need to be careful.  It is so easy to condemn and crucify others than consider our own wrong doing and we all would prefer to take the comfortable, less complicated, less painful way out.  I’m speaking for myself because I’m the worst.  My challenge is to remember that Christ came to save the Church as a body, not just individuals, and to love them because He did.

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