Yesterday my 7-yr old son ran into a door handle as he rushed ahead in a race to beat his brother to the car. He grimaced on impact and then immediately turned to glare at me. His look said it all – the accident was clearly my fault. Somehow, with my magical mom powers, I had moved the door from 10 feet away at the same time that I forced him to run instead of walk and therefore caused him great (i.e. over in seconds) pain.
You got me, kid. It’s my bad, clearly.
If only this misplaced blame phenomena ended as we grew older…Unfortunately, we’re all quick to point fingers at something, anything, other than ourselves.
As with other things, we’ve become particularly adept at this in the church world. As the world around us grows more and more critical, we’ve decided to join the party, only we want to do so as outsiders looking in.
“The Church hasn’t done a good job caring for people.”
“The Church spends too much money on ______.”
“The Church doesn’t spend enough money on _______.”
“The Church isn’t relevant to young people.”
“The Church should stop trying to be relevant.”
“The Church is so hypocritical/judgmental/soft/political/etc.”
These are just a few examples. And, believe me, criticism is not a bad thing and often warranted, but unfortunately most of these statements, and many more like them, are being made by Christians and rarely are they followed by the pronouns “we” or “I.” We all like to play the role of Monday morning quarterback from time to time. I am so guilty of this so very often. The problem is, it is hurting our witness to the world and the Church isn’t getting better or stronger as a result.
Change starts from within. And while the Church is made up of many, many, many parts, together we make up the whole and together we have to take responsibility for the task Jesus entrusted to us. It’s like the song I learned in Sunday School as a child,
“I am the church. You are the church. We are the Church together. All who follow Jesus, all around the world, yes, we’re the Church together.”
Jesus hasn’t given up on the Church. He hasn’t given up on the idea of you and me working together to share love and grace and truth to a world that is deeply broken. We shouldn’t give up on it either. But we need to stop clawing and tearing at each other and abdicating our part. We can criticize each other while loving each other and remembering that we’re all part of the family.
Together isn’t always easier, but it is better – and it’s also how Jesus told us to function. I love the Church, with all of OUR humanness and flaws. That God would call me to lead in the Church is a privilege that comes with a higher level of accountability. So, I’ll go first:
We have work to do. We get it wrong, a lot. But we can do better – together.