God Survives His Church

I’ve been studying for an upcoming sermon and came across some very good, balanced blogs and other articles online that caused me to think about authority… again :)Extremes in the charismatic/pentecostal movement, emergent and institutional church in general were all covered and responded to in my online searching.At the end of my little web journey the memory of a bumper sticker most of us have seen flashed in my mind: “Question Authority”. What came to me was the thought whoever came up with that got it mostly right. They should have said “Question ALL Authority”. That includes me questioning my own.As I see it the lion’s share of dysfunction and outright bloody battles among all people, people groups and you-name-the-Christian-group-cuz-all-of-us-share-this-one-folks… gets to the issue of authority. Who has it, who wants it, who should get it and why?The problem is we all question “his… hers… them… theirs” but not “mine”.In the end we each want our way. To be fair and gracious there are times most any of us really ARE seeking the mind, will and plan of God in the issue, and sometimes honestly fight for justice. Some hills are worth dying on, but not very many.The older I get the more I realize this isn’t automatically just about a flaky, spiritually liberal Christianity or always about fear, being “liked”, job security or being safe. Sure, at times it’s about any or all of these, but there are those battles younger Christians will just about die (and kill others) for… and there is often no parallel of either Jesus nor any of His followers in the New Testament screaming, splitting or dying over the same things we are.Who gets their way? How, why, and what does it really matter in the end? Will it matter in five years? Ten years? What sort of witness to those around us is it? What example to new believers are we setting? In these matters have been guilty often. I expect all reading this have been.IS there ever “a time to be silent”, to pray, to just let it go and “lose”? And exactly what is one losing in the particular case?As I age I am increasingly asking myself if a given issue is worth speaking, writing or singing about? Why or why not? Should I approach this person or this group, or just pray long and hard for them? What IS the Spirit actually leading me to do or not do in a given situation? What DID Jesus say or do about such a topic?We see this patient, loving God in the flesh Whom we find (on occasion in the Gospel account) wringing His hands over the blunders of His people, The Church, local and at large, regardless of form, style or “feel”.Then the thought comes to me in the midst of my own lamenting and repenting of sin, the sins of others, the sins of this or that local church, “stream” of churches, denomination or Church at large: I’m happy to conclude that throughout the history of the embarrassing, foolish, sometimes truly disgusting story of what has been or still is truly WRONG with us, God will survive the church.To be sure, He always has and always will in each and every generation and incarnation of the church. He not only survives but flourishes- people come to saving faith and biblical discipleship regardless of our worst blunders.Praise GOD for His power, His truth, HIS authority regardless of the mess we often make with ours.What we must remember with genuine humility is that the church is not ME, but US… each and every one who trusts and follows Jesus Christ. When one suffers, all suffer. There are both meat and bones in each of us and every form of church- and if you aren’t ready to face this fact just stick around long enough and you will!God’s faithfulness, not merely our own -is key. God help us bow to His authority, to do the best we can each day with our best ability to understand and apply His Word (Bible) in our thinking, communicating, prayers and service. May God help us honor Him in our relationships to walk with deepening love and humility throughout the various local and larger church communities- whether they seem (at the time) to us a swamp -or- green pasture!God is constant. The church (that’s YOU and ME, not merely THEM) must change.