Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What I Believe About... the Church

The Christian Church is an interesting institution. Yes, I believe it is an institution whether others think it is a movement, an organism or a tropical plant. Historically there have been times when the church has stood as the best thing in the world. At other times she has perpetrated more damage, violence and evil than even Satan himself. Overall, I believe that there is little doubt that the world is better today because of the presence of the church.

What follows is my interpretation of the current state of the church. There are a lot of warts, but here it is, as I see it.
  • The church has more potential for good than any other entity in the world today. With current efforts to eradicate human trafficking, HIV/AIDS and to provide clean, safe water the church is doing more than almost anyone else. And that does not include hospitals and other health care facilities, homes for orphans, abused children and seniors and educational institutions in general. The church has done great good, and continues to do so.
  • The church provides social interaction for millions of people around the world. The church is the place that many people (including me) met their mates or lifelong friends.
  • The church is the custodian of the most important message in history. With all its faults (and there are many, but more of that later) there is no greater message than one of grace, acceptance and forgiveness for all people without regard for race, education, social status or financial resources.
  • The church sometimes thinks it is more important than the message it teaches. Unfortunately, leaders in the church are sinful, fallen people. They sometimes become greedy for money, fame and power. It is easy for them (and often us, as well) to become consumed with maintaining power and gaining more of it. When this happens the church tends to push away the very people we are called to serve.
  • There is too much conflict in the church. People with different political opinions or theological persuasions can be downright mean to one another. Everyone knows someone who has had their feelings too hurt by some Christian person.
  • Elements of the church are definitely too judgmental of others. The Christian faith needs to be upheld by standards of belief, behavior and practice, but we should never use our 'church' as a club to beat others. It is common these days to hear people express their admiration for Jesus and Christianity but to be completely turned off by the church.
  • Denominational differences can be used by God- they need not be a source of division and animosity. It is my belief that there are some people who will only be Christian if they can be Baptist, or Catholic, or Methodist, or Pentecostal... God uses these differences for his glory.
I believe the church has a great future. We only need to be honest about who we are, what we have done, and where we are headed.

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