God's Word for today

Friday, 12 June 2009

Living with an imperfect Church

In many ways my relationship with my Church has been very different to that of an average congregant, largely because of my involvement in financial matters at all levels, leadership positions held over the years, and now my current role as one training to become a full-time minister. And I have to confess that this relationship has sometimes resembled something out of the Danny de Vito film "The War Of The Roses", as related on this blog from time to time.

Yet somehow I want to stick around - partly because of the many good people, both lay and clergy, who serve the Church with integrity out of a deep desire to know and serve Jesus, and partly because of an innate stubbornness to take whatever punches it can throw at me, and remain standing.

Someone once said to me that if I were ever to leave the MCSA in search of a "perfect Church", I would taint it the moment I walked through the door. I have to admit that this is true, for while an institution consists of ordinary fallible human beings, it's always going to have a few warts. And in the same way that there are people within our Church who irritate the living daylights out of me, there are undoubtedly those who feel the same way about me!

However, this piece entitled "Ode To The Church", originally written by the Italian spiritual writer Carlo Caretto, which I have "borrowed" from John van de Laar's blog, really speaks to me about how a perfect Christ can be encountered in His imperfect Church.

How much I must criticize you, my church, and yet how much I love you! You have made me suffer more than anyone and yet I owe more to you than to anyone. I should like to see you destroyed and yet I need your presence. You have given me much scandal and yet you alone have made me understand holiness. Never in this world have I seen anything more compromised, more false, yet never have I touched anything more pure, more generous or more beautiful. Countless times I have felt like slamming the door of my soul in your face - and yet, every night, I have prayed that I might die in your sure arms! No, I cannot be free of you, for I am one with you, even if not completely you. Then too - where would I go? To build another church? But I could not build one without the same defects, for they are my defects. And again, if I were to build another church, it would be my church, not Christ's church. No, I am old enough, I know better.

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