Some of my readers might have been surprised, when I said in yesterday’s post that I largely agree with Michael Spencer’s criticisms of the church. The modern church is in a mess. And, I trust that many of you will echo his cry:
I’m looking for a spiritual experience that looks like, feels like, sounds like, lives like, loves like, and acts like Jesus of Nazareth. It’s that simple. Read more at location 1151
I even agree with Spencer that such an experience is often not to be found in the typical church. Where I part company with him is in his belief that it is therefore legitimate to consider turning ones back on meeting Jesus in the church at all, and leaving the church to seek a solo Christianity. When I read this book, I added the note “I really don’t agree” next to the following paragraph:
I’m going to suggest that many, perhaps most, of those who are leaving the church or are about to leave are doing so because walking away seems to be the only path to authentic spirituality. In other words, if the leavers still hold out any hope of really connecting with Jesus, they know it will have to happen somewhere other than at church.Read more at location 1111
I strongly disagree with this because I believe that most people do not leave church altogether in order to seek after God. Rather, most people walk away from the church so they can sin more easily and not feel as guilty about doing so. Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to give up meeting together. The church is Jesus’ bride. To say that you want nothing to do with her is like telling me you want to be my friend but you don’t like my wife much. I will not welcome you into my home, and somehow I suspect Jesus would be similarly unhappy.
Jesus is in the business of building his church. Now, I do accept that it is sometimes right to leave a church, but if you do so you must find another one straight away. In rare circumstances that might mean starting one, I suppose. But I do not think that starting a church on your own is a good idea for most people!
I do understand his sympathy with one woman who complained that:
The Christians she knew didn’t stand out because of their attachment to Jesus but by the unattractive baggage they carried. They had too much in common with the “vinegar” versions of Jesus: requirements about appropriate dress and what music you could listen to; expectations of regular church attendance and pledging allegiance to various forms of Christian culture; acceptance of rules, interpretations, and strictures that she couldn’t connect with Jesus. I knew exactly what she meant.Read more at location 1321
But the fact that the Church has many problems does not excuse us from the duty of doing our own part in establishing a beautiful representation of Christ on earth. The church is the way she is partly because you and I could do a better job of being part of the solution rather than part of the problem!