I know that many of you are ready to move on from the election but I hope you will indulge me at least one more time. On-going conversations keep forcing me to reflect on it, but I promise next week I will move on and talk about the thrill of being thankful. The acrimony that marked our recent election and its surprising outcome have many wondering what the future will bring. You hear predictions of a better America all the way to the rise of a Nazi state. I am not sure why, but this has stimulated me to focus again on why I believe in the Church. No church is perfect, Hope included. No group of churches is perfect. But I believe in the church; always have and always will. Here are a some of the reasons why.
1) The church, the Christ-focused, bible teaching church is the best place in the world for a person to hear the gospel. Whether it is being spoken in English, French, Chinese, Spanish, Creole, Swahili, Kinney Rwandan or any of the other 100’s of dialects on the planet, the gospel preaching church is the best place on the planet for a person to learn that God loves them, has given His Son for them, and to sense the Holy Spirit inviting them to believe in Jesus and experience eternal life. God is glorified through the gospel.
2) The church is the best hope on the planet for unity; to bring together people of different genders, race, cultures, socio-economic status, political persuasions and cultural stances. I know, sadly, this is not true of every church, but the Holy Spirit keeps working to bring unity. It is in the Gospel, as we all stand before the Cross in equal need, that the barriers that divide us are broken down and we are bonded together in Christ. And that bond, being spiritual family, should be and is stronger than anything that might divide us. In fact, being unified despite our differences is a vital aspect of our witness to the world. It is a witness our world distinctly needs now.
3)In the Gospel believing Church the operative attitude is acceptance. In the spirit of Christ as He was confronted with the women caught in adultery, our upfront and leading attitude is “neither do I condemn you”. It doesn’t matter what a person has done, what their lifestyle, or what their race, gender, or political persuasion is, they are treasured as a special creation made in God’s image. That acceptance, prompted and guided by love, must lead eventually to “go and sin no more”, but acceptance is always the genesis of how the Gospel believing Church encounters each and every life.
4) God is dealing with and growing His Church. It is His Church, and He is working to perfect it through the Holy Spirit. He is speaking to it through the authority of His Word and shaping it to be His Body in the world. It will be different from the world and usually not accepted by it, but He is not done with us, His Church, yet and givens me hope for the Church and the world.
So, I believe in the Gospel proclaiming Church even with its shortcomings and failures. May we truly be His Church in these moments. Our world, our nation, our state, our region needs us to be the Church.
I look forward to seeing you Sunday.