I suspect there is not one person involved in a Christian church, past or present, who hasn’t been sorely disappointed. As someone said, “If you find the perfect church, don’t join it, for sure as fate you’ll spoil it!” Church is made up of frail, fallen, faltering human beings like me, and if you put your faith and trust solely in ‘church’ you won’t last long.
And yet, St Paul says that ‘Christ’s Church’ is God’s Plan A for practising and proving the loving, life-transforming presence of Jesus Christ.
“The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Ephesians 1:23 – MSG / NIV)
Essentially you don’t need a building, reverend, pew, organ, pulpit, hymn book, presbytery, bishop or collection to make a ‘church’, but you can’t do church without ‘Jesus, People & God’s Love.’ Church is: God’s People, God’s Family & Living Temple of God, Body & Bride of Christ, gathering in groups to be built up, blessed and launched to bless and help others experience and connect with God’s Love in Christ.
Ask people on our streets what they think of ‘Church’ I suspect it may not be very positive, all depending on whether or not they have encountered a Christ follower who showed them the unconditional love of Christ. Ask people what they think of ‘Jesus Christ’ and the answer may be more positive, though younger generations are getting further away from the assumptions of yesteryear that Jesus Christ is ‘OK!’ Indeed, a teenager in a jewellers was overhead asking who the person hanging on a silver pendant crucifix was.
Through disappointment, many people no longer engage with their local church. Some prefer the view from a mountain top, golf tee, sports field or bed to that of a church gathering. Some were put off church by how they were treated or through fall-out. Others are quite content in their life without God or in the huff, angry that God didn’t help them in time of need. Many are oblivious to the difference Christ can make because no one has shown them. Lots of reasons divert and keep people from worshipping God and opening up to God’s transforming Spirit. Some Christians commit to para-church organisations that help people to find faith and help in God and don’t really commit a local church.
At Fullarton we’re trying to digest Paul’s letter to the early church at Ephesus (present day Turkey) and taking seriously the esteem and responsibility that is ours as members of Christ’s Body in Irvine and the World. Fortunately God’s world presence and activity is not limited to The Church. But when we remove the ‘d’ from ‘disappointing’ and accept ‘his-appointing’ & anointing, we’re involved at the ‘heart-edge’ of God’s worldwide activity, practically proving God’s ‘John 3:16’ Love in how we look out for and care for people, especially those we don’t like or find it hard to get on with. Like it or not, ’Church is God’s Plan A’ for the World! “Dear Lord, help me to get with it!