I'm almost to the end of my 6-week preaching series, which keeps me writing plenty. So I'm sharing snippets on my blog. Here's part of what I shared just yesterday...
I want to talk about the Church and its purpose this morning. I thought about starting with some bad illustrations of churches behaving badly. It wouldn't have been difficult to find several examples. Google produced over 2 million results when I typed in churches behaving badly.
Then I considered that a bit more and decided against that as an introduction. After all, the Church is not a building, a steeple, a resting place or anything like that. The church is (a people)! Is anybody else hearing the old Sunday School chorus in their heads right now?
I am the church! You are the church!
We are the church together!
All who follow Jesus, all around the world,
yes, we're the church together!
The truth is that when we hear stories of Churches mistreating people, we are hearing stories of people mistreating people. On the one hand, we shouldn't be surprised. After all, the Church is full of sinners. Saved by grace and filled with the Holy Spirit, sure, but unless anyone here has been granted entire sanctification, then there are probably still moments when we offend others.
For me to share the dirty laundry of others and scoff and act as if I’m not also a contributor would be hypocritical.
We do have a problem. There are many on the outside of God’s grace, unable or unwilling to see it because of the stink the Church has left behind in this world. We can ask God for forgiveness, confess it to our small group of Christian friends, even offer a testimony in church, but our stink remains an odoriferous sensation to the watching, unsaved world, one they are not quick to forgive or look past.
We are not the first generation of Christians to deal with such a problem. Jesus hadn't been back in Heaven very long when Christians started behaving badly. In fact, I imagine He might have just been about to sit on His throne when He looked down and He may have even exclaimed, “What in the world? I just left…?!?!”