History is replete with stories of governments becoming abusive to the people they are fashioned to serve. One merely has to read the newspaper to find many instances of modern day abuses and usurpations brought about through governments. No matter the form of government, abuses can be found.
Governments are brought down and replaced by new governments with new ideals. Sometimes this is done for the good of the people, sometimes for the good of the new regime taking power.
Despite so much injustice coming from the hands of those in governmental authority or the institutions of government no sensible people argue that government ought to be abolished altogether. No one wants a return to anarchy. No one trusts human nature enough to unleash a people with no governmental restraints and protections. It is precisely because people have the tendency towards corruption that balances of powers are put in place in democratic governments. It is because of the waywardness of humanity that government is required and yet the governments themselves contain some of this corruption, hence the checks and balances. We don’t argue to abolish government because of the abuses, nor do people leave to go and find a nation without a government when there is a problem with government.
However, when it comes to the Church, people see abuses of power or other problems in a particular church or the Church as a whole and their response is to give up on church, and sometimes on Jesus as well. But many are still alright with Jesus, but disappointed or burned by the Church. We forget that the Church is made up of people like ourselves. Real people who have bad days, make mistakes, do wrong things sometimes, and disappoint people. We forget that being in a church is being a part of a diverse community of people from all different places in their walk with Christ. If we were all the same, I think there would be greater cause for concern and questioning of authenticity.
I am not writing this to make an argument for the existence of God or the validity of Christianity. I am simply attempting to put things into perspective for we often can see things more clearly when we substitute a different example. If people have left church because of matters of truth seeking versus abuses then I am not talking to you at all. Nor am I judging anyone who has been burned and took a hiatus from Church community life. All I am saying is that we are often quicker to give up on Church than we are on a favorite restaurant or even something as corrupt as government. We can’t put church community life into a category that demands it to be all good all the time, for it will fail as much as we fail and yet we miss all the good if we focus on the failures. It is so easy to allow negative things to cloud our vision so much so that we forget all the joys of being in a Church community. We forget the friendships, the love, the family atmosphere, the encouragement, the joy of working as a group toward growing in Christ. We loose more than we think by leaving, but we forget what we are missing by focusing on whatever injustice we observed or of which we were a victim. Being in Christ isn’t just about being in relationship with Him alone, but in being in relationship with other believers; iron sharpening iron, in good times and bad, and even in the midst of failures and disappointments. We also rob our fellow believers of our friendship and aid when we stop fellowship with them. We all need refreshing, but that refreshing comes only from resting in Him. Even in community with other Christians we must live in a place of rest in Him. If our strength does not lie in Him, we work in our own strength, and that will wear on us quickly. That will rob us of our peace and joy.
Maybe as we enter this New Year we can look at Church differently. We can start fresh and remember that we are all part of this family together and we all need each other and the fastest way to learn to work together in the Body of Christ is to do so. The most assured way of having lasting relationships in the Church is to build them in Him and build them as covenant relationships going through all together. Love endures all things. It always hopes, always preservers, always trusts. It keeps no records of wrongs. It will never fail.
Church isn’t an organization. It’s a living organism. It’s a family. It’s a beautiful family, the bride of our Lord.