Three Taverns Church

Loving & Hating The Church

17 Comments

After reading several of my posts, a pastor and friend gave me some advice wrapped in a warning: “Do not become someone who attacks the church. You don’t want to become that person.” What I think my friend misunderstands is that there is the Church, and then there is the church. It is the latter which I love and want desperately to succeed, and the former which I want to fail.

You see, the church and the Church are not the same thing. The church is the body of Christ, His bride; the universal fellowship of believers without walls or borders. I love the people of God desperately, so desperately that I feel pain at the hurt the Church does to its people. The Church is the organization which governs the church, and in it we have rendered many of the principles of the Christ weak or altogether worthless. I believe the Church failed the day it was co-opted as the official religion of Rome; the Church annexed and enslaved the church.

Do not misinterpret this post and believe I am full of hate for organized religion, hate for God’s Church, or hate for religious professionals. To help me to express my true feelings adequately, allow me to quote Gilbert K. Chesterton from his book Orthodoxy:

“No one doubts that an ordinary man can get on with this world: but we demand not strength enough to get on with it, but strength enough to get it on. Can he hate it enough to change it, and yet love it enough to think it worth changing? Can he look up at its colossal good without once feeling acquiescence? Can he look up at its colossal evil without once feeling despair? Can he, in short, be at once not only a pessimist and an optimist, but a fanatical pessimist and a fanatical optimist? Is he enough of a pagan to die for the world, and enough of a Christian to die to it? In this combination, I maintain, it is the rational optimist who fails, the irrational optimist who succeeds. He is ready to smash the whole universe for the sake of itself.”

If I hated the church I would simply ignore it. No, I love the church, and so I would smash the Church for the sake of itself. I hate the Church enough to change it, but I love it enough to think it worth changing.

What about you? Are you willing to both love and hate the church, to recognize both its colossal good and its colossal evil, and save it? Or will you be content with the shadow of what was, and what could be?

17 thoughts on “Loving & Hating The Church

  1. Let me get this straight, you want the Church to fail? Am I reading that right? If so fail at what exactly?

    • I suppose you could say that I want the Church, as an orginazational structure, to fail, so that the church can once again be what might be described by some as an “Acts 2 church”.

  2. You copied my own brain echo here. Personally, I’m tired of Church the club – the club that cares more for political agendas or membership or programs or facility budgets than it does about loving people.
    Thanks for this.

  3. Stephen, I respect very much your God given freedom to express yourself however you want. I am personally saddened by your use of the word ‘fail’ when describing your hopes for the Church. I think people make the mistake of believing there is a total separation between church in Church. God’s plan for the church is the Church and you have desired that plan to fail. Jesus organized, trained, gathered crowds to hear sermons, and raised up leaders; all the things the we should be doing today.

    That said I agree with you that there is brokenness in the local congregations and national institutions…but is that really a shock? Brokenness has existed in our actions since our first father’s original sin. Everything we do is tainted with that brokenness and the the Bible says that will be until Jesus returns and we all head off for a big rockin’ party.

    What you have is a bunch of Jesus lovin’ people trying to make God’s perfect plan happen but we know that perfection will not come yet, because we are all messed up and the Bible tells me so (I did sing that last part), until we are summoned to the New Jerusalem. I am as guilty of this as any other person you have directed your earlier anger or frustrations. As a leader in the church I lead with a heart for God’s people, but at times I fail because I am human and not God. But I am faithful to the Father and I pick up, repent and march on.

    Jesus calls you and me to do two very simple things love Him, love them. Wishing failure of a group of people who want to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus is not love my brother. I encourage you to pray for them, offer your talents and your heart for our Lord’s work and continue your work where God has called you. You were right in an earlier post…it’s about one’s actions, not their words; that goes for you too.

    Anyways, sorry for the long reply, I love you brother, I continue to believe in God’s big plan for you.

    Chris Stephens

  4. @Chris, who is this “Stephen” you speak of?

    Anyway, it’s too bad that your emotions are controlled by my writing; that is an unfortunate condition, and as a recovering co-dependent I can relate.

    In all seriousness, you’ll have to forgive me for calling you out right from the start: Please do not attempt to manipulate me with emotion with phrases like, “I am saddened by your use of…” That’s an obvious tool that one only uses unwittingly or, as is more often the case, when a person does not suspect that others are ‘wise’ to his manipulation. As a recovering manipulator I am ‘wise’ to this tactic and I will appreciate you not using it in this forum. Only honest and non-manipulative dialogue, please.

    Can you provide Scriptural support for your contention that, “God’s plan for the church is the Church”? Because when I look at Acts 1 & 2, I see nothing that resembles the Church of today. In Acts 1 & 2 I see the church as a group of believers gathered together. Yes, that church had ‘leaders’ in the Apostles and the Apostles’ appointed deacons. But as I read Scripture, the Apostles were ‘in charge’ because they had had contact with that “Jesus guy”…Guess what, though? None of those guys who had personal, intimate contact with Jesus are alive today. Luckily, they wrote a bunch of stuff down before they died, a collection of writings we call the New Testament. Today we don’t have Apostles, but we ALL have the New Testament.

    I am not arguing in this post that there is ‘brokenness’ in congregations; as you pointed out, no more obvious statement could be made. My argument is that the very nature, the fundamental organization and structure of these ‘congregations’, is broken.

    Let us pretend for a moment that you and I know each other outside of this blog. Let us also pretend that you attend a church which began as an Assemblies of God church, but can now more closely be likened to a non-denominational church. Let us also remember, briefly, that the Assemblies were a splinter off of Protestant churches, which themselves were splintered off of the Catholic church. So in our make-believe time here, we have invented that you attend a church four times removed from its original founding Catholic body…I find it curious how someone in such a fictitious position as yours could hope to defend his 4-times splintered position against further splintering? Protestants declared the Catholic church ‘broken’, and broke off. The Assemblies felt mainline Protestantism inadequate, and splintered off. The church you now attend has broken with many of the traditions of the Assemblies and has almost become a power unto itself. Shall the splintering stop there? Who says it should, and who gives them that power and authority?

    Furthermore, do not hide behind Scripture in saying that all we’re supposed to do is love God and love each other; do not use that paraphrase to insinuate that what I am doing in attempting to reform the church is not loving, or that your attempts to sustain a broken institution are more loving.

    Finally, with regard to you pointed comment that I must take my own advice, no kidding. I think you’ll find that I hold myself to a fairly high standard in my own writing. So would you mind elaborating on your insinuation that my actions somehow are inadequate?

  5. Mr. Mongoose,
    I think we just have two very opposed views. I don’t think you have any other motivation than to obey the Lord. I guess I am agreeing to disagree, I hope you will join me in at least agreeing to that.

  6. @RM’s comment to Chris Stephen’s comment–
    RM stated “…i feel pain at the hurt the Church does to it’s people” but reprimands Chris Stephen stating, “I am personally saddened by your use of…”

    RM, doesn’t have the right to express his feelings just as you do, and have in your initial blog offering?

  7. I meant to say: RM, doesn’t Chris Stephen have the right to express his feelings just as you do, and have in your initial blog offering?

  8. RM, you are one of a zillion people in the church who have seen abuses in the Church structure/organization since the beginning of the Church. You’ve read history, it’s all there. I think that if the Church was thought to be perfect, then people would worship and adore the Church instead of worshipping and adoring Jesus Christ! If, in our quest/struggle to find and achieve the perfection that Jesus calls us to, we rely on the Church and/or the church to be that ultimate sanctuary, we will be putting the Church and the church above Christ, making Church and church our god.

    God knows the flaws of the Church and the church! If you feel called to point out things that you believe need changing, then have at it. Your particular journey is designed to draw you closer to God—which will in effect draw you closer to God’s Love for His Church and church.

    As God told St. Catherine of Siena, one of the Churches great reformers, “I have so many ways to reach My people, the tongue cannot speak them all. ”

    Jesus gave us His guarantee regarding the Church and the church: “and Peter I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

    • Now I’m ‘blind’, eh? OK, if you say so.

      Regarding your other response, I recognize that i’m #1,000,000,000,000,001 in criticizing the church’s organizational structure. But I don’t hear a lot of people INSIDE the church trying to change things. Sure, there are atheists and agnostics who throw their stones, and Christians who don’t go to church anymore who lob their own grenades, but you don’t hear a lot of active church-attending Christians lobbing those same hand grenades. It seems like they’re only too happy to let things go on as they are. I’ve heard several times from people I consider spiritual mentors that they don’t want to get involved in their church because they don’t want to see what goes on ‘behind the curtain’, so to speak. They are choosing the path of self-induced ignorance. That is not the path I am choosing for myself. I not only want to see behind the curtain, I want to tear the curtain down.

  9. I’m talking about the zillions who are in the church. Carry on soldier!

  10. Pingback: The Church: Salvage Or Scrap? « rabidmongoose

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