Is your church in denial? Are you? Does church look clean? Does everyone have it together? Or does the brokenness all hang out?
I’ve been struck in conversations with people over the last few weeks how we as believers like things to be neat and tidy. We like our edges squared away and our emotions kept in check. Church, we think, should more closely resemble the kitchen of the neat freak than a teenagers chaotic slightly smelly bedroom.
Just stop and think. If you could go back in time and visit one of the Churches Paul write to which would it be? Which would you be least like to choose to visit and why?
I think we’d be least likely to visit chaotic Corinth. There are just so many issues at play in the church; favouritism, celebrity culture, flaunting gifts, failing to love, sexual immorality, struggles to leave idolatries, relationship chaos. And yet Corinth is a church where Paul is convinced Christ is at work, where they are no longer what they were but have been made new in Christ. It is chaotic but that chaos is a result of gospel transformation at different ages and stages. It is a true growth in holiness battling sin which is not linear and easy but messy and hard won.
How would you feel if your church more closely resembled Corinth? Let me put it another way. How would you feel if your church was full of new believers, people struggling to embrace their new identity in Christ and leave their old selves and sins? Saved spectacularly by grace from every walk of life and united together, but still bringing remnants of that old life into church with them on Sunday’s. Wouldn’t you love that! Walking with them, discipling them in the progress and the regress, the steps forward and the step backwards. That is real church
Is that how our churches look? People are often surprised when they hear about the brokenness of the community we serve. Of self-harm, suicide, abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction, chronic illness, and so on. What would you do if all those people came to church?
If those things shock us we are in denial. We all have those same issues lurking in our hearts and if we’re not dealing with them we’re in denial and so is the church.