Posted by: William | March 4, 2008

Condemning the Church

Condemning the church is something that I am notoriously guilty of. When I was a young Christian, I very quickly took a job as an employee of a local Christian Bookshop. It didn’t take long before I was pretty much completely jaded. Isle after isle of self-help junk in the name of Jesus nauseated me. In no way at all did it match up with what I found in scripture. I was so angry. I considered it a righteous anger. I vented my frustration to pretty much anyone who would listen; friends, co-workers, supervisors—it didn’t really matter. A day came when they got in a shipment of Christian lotions and I’d had enough. I’m pretty sure I finished out the work day and quit. The store owner was surprisingly supportive; he knew of my mounting frustration and gave me grace to just leave (although I’m sure that I would have even without his blessing).

 

It was around the same time that I also became an influential leader in a community of youth and more specifically a youth program. Everything started out just fine, but along with my jadedness from the bookstore came a cynicism toward the church at large. What I saw in the bloodsucking christian industry, I projected onto the local church. I became bitter, angry, distrusting and most of all unloving.

 

The interesting thing is that much of my judgment, bitterness and anger was, in fact, founded in some level of truth. It’s true that the church, she isn’t healthy. But where I failed, most prominently, was to miss the fact that neither was I particularly healthy. I became so engrossed in the church’s flaws that it paralyzed my worship. I couldn’t give my worship to God on a Sunday morning because of how entrenched I was in her problems. I couldn’t give my worship on my own because I was usually so satisfied with my own proper spirituality, in contrast to the rest of the church. My own “genuine” faith. Now, I don’t mean to say that my faith wasn’t genuine; the Lord had awoken me, brought me to life and began a powerful work therein. However, my faith was deeply wounded by a sin that I permitted in the name of discernment; but discernment without love is nothing, and so my faith suffered.

 

It hasn’t been until this past year, maybe a year and a half, that my mindset has begun to change and the Lord has helped me to break old habits. I realized recently that I, as well as much of the members of the local church, is the Church. I cannot complain about here, because I am her. It does her no good to point a finger and a frown at her and shout out all her many flaws—even if I’m right. The best way that I can bring about change is if I, being the church, change. Do I want her to be encouraging? Then I need to encourage. Do I want her to be selfless? Then I need to be selfless. Do I want her to love God passionately and worship him daily? Then I need to love God and worship him daily. The calling the Lord has on my life, to love him and others, is not at all contingent on other people. When I am consumed with the church’s problems, I can’t do either.

 

I’m finding today that my heart is changing. I’m longing more for the grace to personally walk out this life before God. Along with that the Lord is also beginning to give me a more righteous sorrow for the church and in turn a more gracious, compassionate, loving attempt to see her change. I’m finding that I am better able to worship, pray and seek God in adverse situations—places or circumstances that would normally set off my cynicism. Gradually the church’s problems are becoming fuel for my own introspection and intercession. I believe this is the place where large scale change and reform may happen. Believers who see the problem (I know several of them; there must be more), we have to stop pointing the finger toward the solution and start living the solution.

 

Jesus, I pray that you would increase the humility in my own heart. Jesus, I pray that you would gradually or radically (either way) awaken our hearts for our deep need to seek you, take you seriously, and trust you. Jesus, I pray that you would get great glory in your me and in the rest of your church. Jesus, continue to sanctify us!

Advertisements

Responses

  1. amen!

  2. well said! Christianity in action starts with the individual and his own faithfulness to the things Jesus says.

  3. I love you. I have repented of the same sin several times. I even encouraged you along at times because those frustrations are “founded in some level of truth.” I have decades of experience with hypocrisies, within and without. Over the years I have learned to laugh at the hypocrisy while still choosing to love and stand by the hypocrite. Your walk is teaching me to tread more lightly and cautiously with young believers. Wherever I have may have pushed, pulled, or affirmed your detour off the narrow road, I am sorry. Thank you for this post.

  4. AMEN!

    I was recently in a similar place…and came to a similar conclusion/conviction with regards to being the change I wish I saw. I think many can relate here…Great post.

  5. Great Post. Ric, pointed this post out to me after I wrote something along similar thoughts.

    I had a talk with a fellow leader the other day and the discussion was around “a spade being a spade”. You’ve spoken to this nicely. If we want the church to be something, we have to be something. We are the church. If we care, the church is caring. If we encourage, the church is encouraging.

    Thanks for this encouragement!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: