I’m going to say this, and it won’t be popular with some because it seems many Christians have developed a hobby around criticizing the church, but the church gets a bad wrap. The local church is an easy target, a convenient scapegoat.
The church hurt me.
Some christians mistreated me.
They didn’t give me enough attention.
They didn’t make enough effort.
That minister sinned.
I get it. The church has a responsibility of being Christlike. Ministers should be holy. Believers should love one another. The church could be more intentional about making disciples. The church could be more aggressive about winning the lost.
This thing is not perfect. Period.
The quicker you accept that fact, the quicker you can get moving toward following Jesus well. If Jesus can have breakfast with a denier (Peter), well, that begins to disassemble all of our excuse making and scapegoating of the church and other christians. The church being imperfect is not a blemish on Jesus’ record, but instead it shines a spotlight on the potency and majesty of the Savior. If He can hold this flawed, sinful mess together, if He can keep this movement going forward despite our best efforts to derail it, then all the more He is worthy of our devotion.
At some point we all have to make the choice. We will either give the church, ministers, and other christians the dominant influence in our faith or we will make Jesus the epicenter. I refuse to allow the imperfections, and even the evil of others, to dictate the terms of my relationship with Jesus.
Once we’ve met Jesus, we know too much. We can never again point to the church and say, “they did this…they didn’t do that…”
The church can and should help us grow spiritually, but the responsibility ultimately falls on us and what we do with Jesus. Make no mistake, He is tender to the wounded and violated. He is patient and merciful in our pain, beyond our wildest imaginations. If you have been deeply wounded or violated, I have no desire to twist the knife deeper, but I am begging you to lean into Jesus, not retract from Him.
For the rest of us, there is no justification for pointing at the imperfection of the church, and leveraging that as a reason to stop growing, or worse, just to stop.
Yes, the church has a responsibility to be intentional and diligent in discipling people. Yes, the church has a responsibility to be Christlike.
When it falls short…When brothers and sister are lacking…
We are not absolved of our personal responsibility to remain faithful to Jesus and His process. We have to own it. Look at Jesus, He is perfect.
And while we are at it, we would do well to remember we have probably been responsible for hurting someone along the way. We have likely demonstrated less than desirable traits at some point. That is something we need to own as well.
Jesus is so incredible, every time you are faced with the frailties of people or an organization, focus on Him. He is worth it.