“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles…
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood…”
There are times when I hear people talking negatively about the Church. I hear things like:
“The service is too long.”
“They want my money.”
“They want my time.”
“It doesn’t meet my needs.”
It would be very easy to add my voice to this choir.
I’m not blind, folks. I agree that there are things that are wrong with the Church.
The Western Church, to be specific, is definitely too comfortable at times. The Western Church can sometimes seem to be too focused on building projects and not as focused on more pressing issues like poverty or the orphaned.
I could add to the list of the things the Church has done wrong.
It would be a long, well-written list of things that many people would agree with. I would maybe even get some retweets and larger traffic on my blog. I have things to add, things that aren’t exaggerated or misleading. They are real problems that need to be dealt with.
I could add my voice to that choir, but I won’t.
I can’t complain about the Church, because I am the Church.
Unlike myself, I understand that there are those of us who have been deeply hurt by their church or denomination. I have compassion for them and also desire to see them overcome the obstacles that pain has erected.
But there comes a time when we have to forgive.
There comes a time when we have to lay down the stones, especially the stones we find ourselves wanting to cast at the Church.
When we feel like casting disapproval upon the Church, we have to remember that the Church is the fullness of Him (Ephesians 1:22-23). To continually berate the Church is to, in essence, continually berate Christ.
More often than not, people aren’t even saying derogatory things about the Church. Instead, people use sarcasm as a means to complain without becoming too invested.
Sarcasm is not a gift of the Spirit. If anything, sarcasm eats away at the roots that hold us together. I’m not saying sarcasm is evil or immoral – I’m saying that when it’s used to berate the Bride, it’s dangerous and undermines the finished work of Christ.
We can’t complain about a problem when we are members of the very institution we complain about. To complain is irresponsible. We’re better than that. We’re the Church and we’re not built upon sand. We’re built upon a firmer foundation than sarcasm, judgement, or offense.
Furthermore, your church isn’t the Church. To write off the Church because of your experiences with a church is wrong. In fact, it’s not biblical (Ephesians 4:32).
It’s not wrong to have issues with the Church, but I’ve read stories of people being hurt and deciding to completely stop attending because of an offense. By definition, that type of action is contrary to the Bible.
It’s time to stop jumping on the bandwagon that is constantly speaking ill of the Church. Jesus called the Church His Bride. Furthermore, He commanded us to come into community with one another.
While this may not look like its current manifestation – Sunday mornings with Starbucks before service and Chinese buffets afterwards – at least we’re trying. At least we have some semblance of balance when it comes to a weekly gathering.
Personally, I was once annoyed with my own church. We lacked community; we were too concerned with revival and seemed to have little interest in our congregants and their daily lives. In a pursuit of large theological concepts, I felt like we were forgetting about people.
But instead of complaining, boycotting, or leaving: I decided to do something about it. Where I saw a lack, I added myself and began investing time in what I wanted to see happening.
So whatever problems you see, you can help solve. Cliche as it is – be the answer to your own prayer. It is far too easy to cast stones from afar at a denomination, church, or pastoral staff. It’s easier still to blog, tweet, and upload statues about it.
What is truly difficult (but also brave) is to set foot in the arena, to go to where the problems lie, and give your aide.
It’s too easy to throw stones at the Church.
But what I’ve learned is that those same stones we so desire to throw at the Church, can also be used as bricks.
Bricks to build with, bricks to create with.
The things we see that need improvement, we can help improve!
Don’t let offenses blind you. Don’t let the sun set on your anger. We’re still sinking in that ocean of grace.
We’re His Bride, His representation. We’re literally re-presenting Him to all mankind.
It’s time for us to come together, with stones in hand, and begin to build.
After three years of knowing one another & much convincing, I’ve finally agreed
with Evan that the place he lives, Iowa, actually is cool. He has guest authored for AE before and also authors his own blog.