Churches can be dangerous places

Churches can be dangerous places; we need to walk very carefully through them with a keen eye toward following Jesus.

We don’t like to say that some churches are better than others but it might be too obviously true. The best church for you might be different than for someone else but that it’s a place where truth meets love is the minimum that anyone should bear.

It seems like almost every day we hear about some new controversy or scandal arising in some church somewhere. It’s true that our new opportunity to report in seconds everything that happens in the world can give us the sense that bad things are happening much more frequently than they are, but happen they do, somewhere, sometime.

Jesus is the head of His church. That might go without saying but there’s been a lot of confusion about that kind of thing through the years. It’s His church and that sets some of the lines for what we’re going to think about it, either good or bad. We might have the freedom to do many things as Christians in regard to the church, but to dismiss the church, or give up on the church, or dislike the church doesn’t seem OK? I mean whatever we broken, fallen struggling saints do with the church it’s still the kingdom of God and the body of Christ.

For some, church is always going to be a struggle. In some ways God sets it up as a field for those struggles. It’s in church that we’re confronted with the offensiveness of the Gospel (not exclusively but that’s where the Pastors preach), it’s in church that we usually have our first recognition of the grace of God, it’s in church where we have some level of moral accountability to living out the ethical life of a child of the King, and it’s in church where we experience our spiritual and moral failures, our mistakes, our suffering, rebuilding and joy.

The church is more than a mere field for the institutional stratification of religious community, it is the home for the most needful experiences of faith and life, for encouragement and growing in grace, for being conformed to the likeness of Jesus. It is, it should be, the place we come to find rest and peace.

Does that make the church perfect? Well there’s a sense in which the church is perfected but that has everything to do with Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father having done in our place all that was required in regard to being perfect and very little to do with us as confused and confusing children of God trying to make sense of it all.

The rest of us are just walking the path toward Christ together, sometimes better, sometimes worse, but always in hope, and our hope will not disappoint us; the Head of the church has overcome the world.

John 16:33