The Church – A Work in Progress
Don’t reject Jesus based upon the witness of the Church.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.
– Ephesians 5:25–27
Observe & Consider
Have you ever known anyone whose reason for rejecting Jesus was that, “the Church is just full of hypocrites”? It is a common sentiment. When you consider some of the weird things going on in the Church today or when you consider Church leaders who have not been good examples of Jesus followers, it is not difficult to see why people are turned off by the Church. But is that a good reason to reject Jesus?
In the world of music, classical composers like Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven are considered to be masters. It is enthralling to experience one of their works performed by a world-class symphony. However, when a fifth-grade orchestra attempts to perform the same work, the results are dramatically different. No one judges the genius of Bach when the fifth-grade symphony falls short of perfection. It is almost expected. But when the Church falls short of perfection, many people question the value of following Jesus.
The person who rejects Jesus because of the Church needs to be aware of two things. First, Jesus is perfect regardless of how well the Church represents Him. And two, just because Jesus has not yet “perfected” the Church, or those who make up the Church, doesn’t mean that He is not able to do so, or that He won’t. The Church is a work in progress. Jesus will see to it that ultimately the Church will be without “spot or wrinkle or any such thing”– that she “should be holy and blameless.” Like a child entering the teenage years, the Church may appear rough and unpolished. But every breathtaking bride was once an awkward adolescent. Some day the Church will be made ready to be the bride of Christ Jesus (Revelation 19:7). And as the Bible teaches (Revelation 22:5), she will reign with Him forever!
Ask & Reflect
- Have you ever heard anyone say that the Church is full of hypocrites? What do you think about that statement?
- What is your personal experience with the Church? Has it generally been good or bad? Explain why you answered as you did.
Decide & Do
As we have studied, those who trust in Jesus are made righteous “in Him.” But nowhere in the Bible is it taught that those who have been made righteous in Him will be able to consistently walk out that righteousness 100% of the time. Every follower of Jesus is a work in progress, learning to express outwardly what Jesus has accomplished inwardly. And there is not a better place to grow than in the Church. That is how He designed it to be.
If you have not yet decided to follow Jesus because you are hung up on the condition of the Church, then take your focus off the Church and turn it to Jesus. Weigh the claims of Jesus based upon the life and character of Jesus Himself.
If you are already a follower of Jesus, but have become frustrated with, or even hurt by, the Church, don’t give up on it. God didn’t give up on you as the object of His love! The Church needs you, and as we studied in the previous lesson, you will never know (walk in) your identity in Jesus apart from a right relationship with the body of Jesus.
For Further Study
- Matt Slick, Questions and Objections to Christianity, Part 3. (© Matthew J. Slick, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, 1996–2006). (http://carm.org/christianity/christian-doctrine/objections-jesus-physical-resurrection-answered). Retrieved December 11, 2006.
- Robert Velarde, What About Hypocrites in the Church? Focus on the Family Ministries (http://www.focusonthefamily.com/faith/becoming_a_christian/is_christ_the_only_way/what_about_hypocrites_in_the_church.aspx). Retrieved August 20, 2013.