Sadao Watanabe "Christ Calling Simon and Andrew"
I was with a group last night, discussing some of the not-so-nice sides of the Christian church. You may have experienced some yourself. The church is made up of lying, thieving, hypocritical, broken people who can be incredibly nasty. This is especially hurtful because you'd expect Christians to be Christlike. If you wrestle with this, a few considerations:
1.) "The church is a hospital for sinners." I can't identify the church father who said this, but it holds truth. We don't claim perfection, but redemption. Dietrich Bonhoeffer talked about the church as those "gathered in and through Jesus Christ." A recognition of the church's sinful underbelly calls us to repentance. And it reveals Jesus to be the miracle-working doc who said, "It's not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick" (Matt. 9:12).
2.) "The church is a whore, but she's my mother." - Augustine. Yeah, I just wrote "whore" in my blog, but it's a quote. Our ungodly blemishes are precisely why Christ came to cleanse his bride with his own blood. The church is like your family, with all the quirky, unreasonable, and unlikeable relatives. You are related by blood, whether you like it or not. In fact, precisely when you don't like it, you realize how precious that blood is.
3.) It's important to distinguish the church's culture with her essense. We often become obsessed with our culture - institutions, rules, politics, way of life, etc. Culture often becomes exclusive and narrow-minded. But it's important see the difference between culture and essence. The culture, no matter how perverse it may become, does not negate the essence of one Lord, one hope, one baptism.
Any other thoughts?