Even a casual observer of church history should be able to notice that the church (speaking of the universal church, not a particular sect or denomination) has gone through ups and downs over the years. Those of us who feel that we are seeing the church in one of the down periods can become overwhelmed by what we see around us.
But we can be encouraged by history. For example, in spite of all the negative things that were happening in the organized church of the early 16th Century (and there were plenty of them), God brought about the reformation through Luther and the other reformers.
I have written about many of the frustrating things I’ve seen in churches over the last few years. But I am reminded that despite the misguided, or perhaps even evil, plans that leaders sometimes inflict upon their congregations, God still shows his ability to build the church.
I need to constantly remind myself that the Church is not an organization. The Church is not a building. The Church is made up of all of us who have been made alive in Christ Jesus, no matter how imperfectly we behave at any given moment.
I recently saw an article on the internet that claimed abandoned church buildings as evidence of the death of the church. Borrowing from Mark Twain, reports of the death of the church have been greatly exaggerated. As a one of my favorite teachers used to say, “the Church has always outlived her pallbearers.”
Keep in mind that Jesus is the one that proclaimed his authority to build the church and then backed it up by rising from the dead. He will build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail.
Bottom line is, don’t bet against the church, the true church made up of true believers. God will continue to call people into relationship with himself, no matter who is at the helm of the religious organizations that call themselves churches.
The point of this ramble is to say that when I take my eyes off the people that are damaging the organization that we call the church, I become open to see the work that God is doing around me in individuals that are seeking God.
God continues to be at work and we can be encouraged as we see his handiwork in spite of incompetence and antagonism.
We can indeed be encouraged.