And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt?
2 Samuel 7:23
What David couldn't have known when he said these words was that a community even greater than Israel would come. A people taken from every nation, tribe, and tongue. A community redeemed not from slavery in Egypt but from slavery to sin and from living after the pattern of this world. This is the church. An imperfect group of people plucked from the hand of the enemy.
Why has God done all of this for us? "To make a name for himself"! So it is truly a shame that so many refuse to give God glory for His church and instead enjoy heaping slander and accusations on His people. Even Christians seem to enjoy saying awful things about the bride of Christ, God's church. Do they not know that Satan is the one who slanders the saints? For 'slanderer' is what 'Satan' means in Hebrew, and that is his nature. He slanders and accuses, and they cast their lot in with the enemy to attack their brothers and sisters in Christ. They accuse the church of being hypocritical, fake and judgmental failing to see how they are hypocritically sitting in judgment of the church. They are the proverbial pot calling the kettle black. They cast dispersion and judgment on all churches for the sins of but a handful of people they dislike.
I refuse to join in! Yes, the community of Christ is imperfect. We do often get things wrong, and we do need to become more like Christ; but often the reason why we struggle to live up to our lofty goals is because we are so open. We could kick out all those who struggle, but we do not. We accept people as they are and then seek to move them toward Christlikeness from there. This takes time and patience and grace. And oftentimes things get messy along the way.
In any church you walk into there are committed believers who were addicted to drugs just a few years ago. There are teens and children who have suffered so much that they have contemplated suicide. There are married couples struggling to hold it together. And there are senior adults whose children and grandchildren have broken their hearts and taken advantage of them. And there is probably a pastor desperately trying to serve the Lord without letting his own ego get in the way.
With all this hurt and weakness and imperfection and humanness, we don't always get things right. But it sure is beautiful to watch God's people try. What a sight it is to see a community of people offer one another grace and forgiveness when they fail. To watch people encourage each other to keep moving forward.
I love God's church, and no matter how often we get it wrong I know eventually we will get it right; because I believe in the power of God's Spirit. Ultimately, it is the Spirit who is conforming each of us individually and collectively into the image of the Son; and He will complete the good work He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6). So don't give up on the church. If you have had a bad experience with one then try another, or better yet stay where you were hurt and be the example of grace that church needs.