The church is not perfect. Never has been. Never will be. Not in this life.
That’s why I’m not surprised when folks go through a period of disillusionment with the church, even reveling in bitterness and cynicism. I’ve written two popular posts on this here and here.
As I’ve written before, experiencing a season of cynicism can actually bring forth a renewed vision of the church and a deeper commitment to the gospel if we are willing to let the Spirit transform our hearts. I’ve been there.
Are you upset at the hypocrisy and nominalism in the church? Are you tired of judgmental Christians who look more like the Pharisees than the Messiah from Nazareth? Fed up? Angry? Cynical? I get it. I really do.
So if this describes you, please allow me to speak very candidly.
I understand the cyclone of cynicism has blown through your life. But hear me… please. There is simply no excuse for isolating yourself from the saints and making yourself at home in your storm of bitterness.
Consider this before making any more slanderous attacks against Jesus’ fiancé.
In Acts 9 the very pious Saul of Tarsus, who had been “breathing out murderous threats” against the church, meets Jesus on his way to persecuting God’s people. All of this in the name of God. For the “love” of God.
Here is how Jesus responds to Saul’s words and actions in vs. 4-5:
“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.
Clearly, the language of the church being the body and bride of Christ are more than mere metaphors (1 Cor 12:27; Rev 21:9). Instead, they are ontological facts. It’s a mysterious new reality set forth in Scripture. I’m afraid that for many in the church this has become nothing more than theological jargon.
The words of Jesus to Saul are a sobering reminder that the church is not only the physical representation of Christ on the earth (i.e., what the church does she does as his ambassadors), but also that what is done to/against the church is done to/against Christ, the glorious bridegroom.
Therefore, we must be carefully aware of the aims in our criticisms.
Let’s be honest with ourselves. Do we seek to build up, or to tear down (2 Cor 13:10)? Saul became Paul. His very identity changed. He moved from tearing down to building up. What about you? Are you helping or hurting?
We need prophetic voices in the church, no doubt. But it’s a problem when every social networker and savvy blogger thinks they’re a prophet.
Have you noticed what happens when the majority thinks they’re a prophet? We end up lacking the edification of apostles, evangelists, pastors and teachers.
You may win some loyal fans and followers, but at what cost?
I admit that I’ve grown weary of the constant flow of criticisms (many of them unfounded) against the church from within by those who profess Christ as their Lord. It’s time to change the channel. We have to do better.
Whether you’re in an intentional community, a house church, or a larger organized fellowship, don’t give up meeting with the church (Heb 10:24-26).
Detach yourself from that which feeds your cynicism. Repent of the individualism that threatens the bond of Christian community. Reimagine the church with others. Get involved with broken people who need your real presence. For it is there you will find restoration for your own soul.
Trust not in blog posts and Facebook statuses to change the world. Instead, get involved in your local church. Bless the body of Christ. Be the hands and feet of Christ to your neighbors. Don’t wait. Do it now.
I pray you will find encouragement in the following video. Listen to the talented Greg Denie brag on the body of Christ… just to say thanks.
Are you walking with Christ in community? What are you doing to build up the Bride of Christ? Stand with her today in word and deed.
D.D. Flowers, 2014.