There’s a lot that’s wrong with the Church today. Over and over, I see similar complaints:
“The church today is compromised!”
“The modern church is about entertainment!”
“The contemporary church is more about personalities than about Jesus!”
“Today’s preachers just say what people want to hear!”
“Did you see the expensive sneakers on that pastor?!”
I don’t disagree that there’s a whole lot of mess going on. But one of the fastest ways to get me to stop listening is to complain about “the Church today.”
Why? Because it betrays a serious lack of understanding about Church history. Yes, the Church today may be compromised, shallow, legalistic or liberal, petty and unforgiving. But no more than it’s been in every era of history – including the over-idealized Church of your childhood and of the first century.
There has never been a perfect Church. Never a Church without compromise. Never a Church without shallow, toxic people, self-serving preachers, you name it – it’s always been present. If the Church had been perfect in the first century, we wouldn’t have several of the New Testament books – each of which was written to address what was wrong with the Church way back then. The Galatians were leaving grace for old-school legalism. The Ephesians very quickly lost their first love. The Laodiceans were lukewarm. And the Corinthians? Oh dear .. where do I begin with them? Yet God used the faithful, imperfect, striving, in-need-of-radical-forgiveness first century Church to turn the world upside-down.
That gives me hope. Yes, the Church has problems. It always has. And until we are fully in heaven, we always will snuggle with what’s wrong with the Church. We should never dismiss or downplay our need for repentance, forgiveness and holiness, but we need to stop thinking that the Church today is less capable of being used by God than it has ever been.
God has always used imperfect people and imperfect Churches, because that’s all there is to work with.
That means God can use me … and the Church I serve … and you … and the church you serve.
No, today’s Church is not what it should be. It’s never been what it should be. That may be one of the reasons Jesus told us “I will build my Church.” Because He knew we’d always be a work in progress.