Monday, September 27, 2010
To Wince or Not to Wince?
I must confess that my first reaction to this truth is to wince. I think about the church in all of its flaws, I think of how often we do not demonstrate the love and truth of God, I think of our internal squabbles and public disgraces, and I wonder why in the world God would make himself known through the church.I really struggle with that on a number of levels. I understand what Mark is driving at here and on one level he is right - there are things we cannot change and all we can do is make sure we do not contribute to the mess. But on the other hand, way too many people have "advised" me to look to myself as a way to avoid the criticism I have offered of a situation - as a way to not deal with a real problem.
But then, after I get over wincing, I also remember times when God’s presence has been powerfully present in the church. I recall occasions when the people of God have wrapped their arms of love around those who are hurting. I envision the army of saints who go to places of need in the world, helping to rebuild Haiti, for example, after the devastating earthquake there.
And then my thoughts become more personal. I wonder what I am doing as a member of Christ’s church to demonstrate the grace of God. How am I helping the church to be the temple of God in tangible, life-changing, world-changing ways? Will my contribution to the life and mission of the church help people to find God here?
I don't have much of a problem with trying and failing - but I have a huge problem with not trying. The church may be intractably screwed up, but if we shrug our shoulders and work only on trying to make sure we don't screw up, we give the church permission to be screwed up. That's not right. Yes, it means beating our heads against the wall. Yes, it smacks of obsession - but are we not in some sense supposed to be obsessed with God's goodness?
I know I can never fix the church - I know that I have huge issues of my own and with grace I will do my best to deal with them. But I will try - I will endeavor to make things better - I will point out problems when I see them. I will fail, but I will not concede that failure is somehow acceptable.