Who needs church? What good does “going to church” do? Why bother anyway? All Christians are hypocrites – at least most of the ones you know may be! Let me address that last statement from the outset of this blog series. The word “hypocrite” has a variety of meanings. The most damning of definitions carries the idea of being fake or disingenuous. It is characterized by words like charlatan, fraud, or phony. A more gracious depiction carries the idea of a person who is merely “an actor on a stage”.
There is no doubt that all “Christians” fall short of the ideals lived out by Jesus Himself. We may even fall far short of what was modeled by the earliest post-resurrection Christians. However, I do not necessarily think so. The Bible never paints such an idyllic portrait of people of faith. They are shown to have every possible human frailty, communication breakdown, insincerity and other negative quality you could name as characteristic of our 21st century church group dynamics.
People are human and flawed. We were created in the image of God; but through the rebellion of our “fore-parents”, Adam and Eve, the sin nature holds a lot of power within us. Relationships within the church are as far from perfect as in any other group of people attempting to do life together.
But, you might say, Luke describes them as “unified and compassionately committed to one another.” (see Acts 2:40-47) This is true. They came together in a common bond of faith. They were diligent to convene together, to break bread in fellowship with one another. They were also prone to share generously as they took care of one another during the crisis stages of first century Christianity. However, if you seek to fully understand Bible history, you will catch a more transparent understanding of the rest of the story.
These early saints were not always so “saintly” in their interactions with one another. The Bible honestly and openly describes the reality which made up their lives together. They experienced every kind of controversy you can think of. Just point to any actual events you have been a part of or heard about as it relates to the “church” world today, and you will find parallels in the New Testament. The historical record of Acts pulls no punches. Many of the adjustments inserted into the developing communities of Christian faith came about through hardships, misunderstandings and inequitable behaviors toward one another in less than Spirit-led interaction. However, Jesus was still Lord and God remained committed to the investment of trust He placed upon the Body of Christ.
Jesus is still for the church. He is for her because she is His bride. He knows how to love, disciple and empower the church. He will never give up on the church because God hates divorce. He is in the process of the restoration of His church, and I am glad to be a part of it!