This recent blog post has been interesting to quite a few of my readers, and may be of interest to some of yours, too. It is on the deep anger against the Church many have, and the odd and garbled faith that lies beneath it – namely the expectation that the Church should be divine in goodness and scope Here ’tis.
Yup. My number 1 reason for anger with the Church is disappointment. So is most people’s from what I’ve seen. We (rightly) demand that the Church’s members be better than they are, because of what they are members of. That’s why people get angry at me when I point out the sociological reality that public school teachers have abuse rates that dwarf the abuse rate in the Church. People shoot back “Public schools don’t claim to be the Bride of Christ”. True. And some people claim to be the Czar of all the Russias. We are not disappointed and angry when such people act like lunatics. But we *are* disappointed when the members of the Body of Christ fail to live out their dignity–because the Church really *is* the Bride of Christ and *should* be a communion of saints.
In short, we feel the very real tension of the now vs. the not yet. That tension is a feature, not a bug and is part of what God uses to urge the Church on toward holiness. Don’t expect him to let up. Just as the hatred of the Assyrians was used to chastise rebellious Israel for her good, so the hatred of the world for our sins is part of what keeps up the pressure on the Church’s members to become what the Holy Spirit–the source of the Church’s holiness–demands we become.
I don’t enjoy that anymore than you do. My preferred method for living would be to blame everybody else for the Church’s problems while demanding that everybody else bear with me because of my good intentions. Instead, Paul typical pastoral counsel is that we should “become what we are”, that we should devote relentless energy to becoming more loving ourselves and relentless energy to “bearing with” the failings of other Christians. You don’t “bear with” Spotless Saints Living in the Golden Age of the Church. So that means New Testament Christians were made of the slobby stuff we are and we, conversely, have the same shot at sanctity they did. A good place to start that course with the Holy Spirit as our Personal Trainer in holiness is with forgiveness for every member of the Church who has let you down. Don’t forget to include yourself. And say a prayer for me, the biggest disappointment of them all.