Loving the Church While Seeing Her Flaws
There is a tension I wrestle with. I love the church. I’ve spent all my life in churches and serving the church. I’ve given the last four years of my life to studying to serve the church. But I am also intensely aware of the shortcomings of the church in this age that is passing away. I am constantly working through this tension, recognizing that the church is filled with fallen and broken people like me, who do things that fallen and broken people do, while maintaining hope.
Jesus died for his church, for those who were his enemies. He is preparing her “as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev 21:2). This gives us a great hope. The church is “a pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). It is God’s arena for revealing His wisdom to the heavens (Eph 3:10).
But in the meantime, we have this group of people that sometimes leaves us scratching our heads… And sheesh! Have you looked in the mirror lately?! I’m a part of the problem. You’re a part of the problem. We all are.
Is it healthy to look at the church and see her flaws? I believe it is. It can certainly be unhealthy to look at the church and either not see her flaws or see only her flaws. But there is a healthy sense in which, we need to see the flaws of the church. These are the things that drive us to strive for purity and to dig deeper into the Lord and His Word.
The flaws in the church were what led the Reformers. They saw a church in need of washing and purifying, and they fought to do it. In the midst of this tension, there is an opportunity for us to wrestle with the Scriptures and seek the face of God. If the church is His wisdom and part of His plan for the advance of His kingdom, then He certainly is deeply invested in her. She is not a plan B. She is His plan for the redemption of sinners and the restoration of creation. We pray for His will to be done. May His will be done in our churches, as we continually press in to the Word together and seek to love one another more deeply.