There are many who love to criticize the church (as many inside as out). And sometimes we must. But we all need to be reminded that it is only by the grace and love of God that any of us are a part of a church that God loves “warts ‘n all” and we must always criticize with the grace and love that God chooses to love us with, even though He could spend all His time criticizing us!
That is really what I was thinking about in the following two Sabbatical reflections:
Sabbatical reflection 5: The church by and large is ill. It is infected by a wasting disease called consumerism (I want stuff, sermons, services, special people that will make me happy). And this illness is so pervasive that the good health of obedience to the call of Jesus to deny self (deny consumerism) and embrace a lifestyle of discipleship which will include, at times, suffering (but true joy) is no longer seen as good health but as being unbalanced.
Sabbatical reflection 6: No matter what the condition of the true church (and I think it has and will always be suffering with some or other illness here on earth) we must remember that those who make up the church are unconditionally loved by Jesus and so should be loved by us too. Those who are in the church are always a work in progress and need love (sometimes tough love) not judgment to grow.
Biblically, these two reflections came about as I thought about the condition of the church in general today when it comes to responding to the call of Matthew 28: 18 – 20 to be disciple-making disciples (Reflection 5 – and I know there will be those who are really a part of the church who will be like this). And then as I remembered (Reflection 6) that the church (no matter what model of doing church is being followed or what condition it is in) is nothing less than those on earth of whom it is said in 1 John 3: 1, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”