The American Church — Take Her? Or Leave Her?
Whilst tag surfing, I came across a well-written, thoughtful, (though perhaps unintentionally imflammatory) post on the state of the American church today. I have given a lot of thought to the topic over the last year or so, when it dawned on me that not everyone has the great church-experience that I’m privileged to enjoy every Sunday.
The following is derived from my last comment on the above-mentioned post; it was really too long for a comment; I should have just written this here and linked it back.
It seems to me Greg, the original poster, is not anti-church, as some of his commenters seem to believe. He’s pro-New-Testament, Jesus-based church, which is *not* what most of the American church is right now. What he’s pointing out is that the state of most of the American church is a tragedy. He’s not suggesting that everyone leave their churches, he just posted some thoughts on why that’s happening. He’s suggesting that we stop ignoring the problems and do something about them.
Greg thinks (as I do) that, at the heart of it, American Christians, by and large, have it all wrong, expecting the Church to meet all their needs, and be about them. That self-centered, “I deserve it” attitude is extremely pervasive in American culture, and totally opposite of Biblical teaching.
(thanks to www.art.com)
I was reading in Ephesians this morning, where Paul says that the Christian lifestyle is ALL for the glory of Jesus. In 2:21-22 he mentions the purpose of the church, saying that it is “growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you are being built into a dewlling of God in the Spirit.” (Emphasis mine.) IOW, it’s a work in progress. It’s ongoing. I believe that, this will be the case until the day of Jesus’ return. We won’t see the fulness, the perfection, of the Body & Bride of Christ (the Church) until He comes back. Earth is never going to have the perfection of Heaven until that time.
It also caused me to think about my marriage: I shudder to think of what I was like when I married at age 21. Full of myself, thinking I was way-more mature than I actually was, thinking I was way more right than I actually was… Yet, my husband loved me, and together we’ve grown and matured, and together we’re way better as a couple, and as individuals than we were 12.5 years ago… Much of this, for me personally, has been accomplished by his very gentle and loving correction, and me responding positively to that, seeing my error, and turning from my flawed ways.
Such must be with the Church today. We’re not as great as we think we are. We need growth and maturity. We need help. But, Jesus is not rejecting His Bride because we’re flawed. No, He’s drawing us closer, pulling us into Him, leading us on to maturity in Him.
I think some would see the Church, and say, “It has too many problems. Heck with it,” and walk away. But that would be akin to my husband divorcing me, say, a year or two into our marriage because of my own immaturities. By the grace of God, he didn’t. And I think we need to extend more grace to the immature Bride of Christ, the Church, and realize that, according to Paul in Ephesians, it’s a process.
We can’t expect some sort of perfect, flawless Church, rejecting anything less than that. However, we can’t be content w/ flaws and immaturity — we have to take the initiative to grow further into Him, and closer with each other. The church can help with the first, but I believe it’s vital to the second; we can’t grow closer to each other without each other.