Monday, July 24, 2006

The Church (Duh.)

I just finished reading a book entitled Blue Like Jazz. And I recently revisited The Ragamuffin Gospel. If you're going to read one or the other, read the second. I think it has more depth of thought than Blue Like Jazz.

Anyway, what strikes me most from books like these is how surprised and/or shocked people are that the Christian Church is messed up, empty, or hollow-feeling. The author of Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller, describes how disillusioned he became with the White Republican Suburban Church and therefore with Christianity itself. He stated that the people of the church "withheld love" and only gave it to people who upheld the same ideals. He described how he much rather preferred his pot-smoking hippie friends that loved freely.

But my question is, what did he really expect? If you were to read the entire Bible, both Old and New Testament, you will find that God's people have always been messed up, just like everyone else. The only church that loved people properly for a short period of time was the church described in the book of Acts. The later Epistles are warnings to different churches that they need to clean up the spiritual and social messes that they created when they got off-track from seeking God.

If you think about it, it makes sense that the Church is dysfunctional. Broken people, sometimes with severe emotional and social problems, seek out God and come to a church to be around other broken people who are also seeking God. People with low self-esteem, terminal health problems, manic-depressive disorders, divorcees, drug addicts, womanizers, ex-convicts, and the power-hungry all gather in the same place to "worship." We initially come because God has been pulling on our heartstrings and we want to come closer to Him. But we all wind up trying to impress one another with hollow self-righteousness, with only moments of sincere worship peppered in the mix.

It's truly a miracle of God that we haven't killed each other in the process.

Yes, the Church is messed up. Don't be surprised - it always has been. The purpose of the Church is not to whitewash souls; it's to try to seek God together and support each other along the way. And as we sincerely try to come close to Jesus, He is the one who declares us righteous and washes the dirt away.

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