I know, nothing new here. At least if you know where to look. The entire New Testament is full of books that were written because the church is broken. The Apostle James showed us that there was trouble early on, writing only 30-40 years after the ascension of Christ, he penned the following: Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war.
The truth is that when you are dealing with fallen humanity, many of them, even the redeemed, are going to act and behave like fallen humanity. It’s sort of a Catch 22, we think that because we are the church and we are saints, that we are to act like saints in some rarified way, never realizing that if we could act like saints, i.e. without sin, we would not have needed Christ in the first place. But we do need Christ. We need Him upon our entry into the church, and while we remain in the church.
And this is the rub, we often fail in our walks with Christ thinking that the call to be a Christian is about the church, and not Christ. The call to be a Christian is all about Christ and what He is making us, while in the church. When we become Christians, we are called to be a part of the body of Christ. We cannot in any defensible way say that we are Christians, without being a part of the visible church. That is completely contrary to what the writers of the New Testament were saying.
But given that, we must approach the body of Christ with open eyes. It is made up of sinners, of which, we all fit the description. Christ is cleansing His bride with the washing of the water and the word because she needs to be cleansed. She is not clean already. He is making her clean. There will always be struggles and trials in the body of Christ.
The point here is to join the church, accept the reality of the fallen nature of the church, but keep our eyes upon Christ in the process. There will always be challenging people who step on toes and ruffle feathers. God has placed those people in our lives to sanctify us. He is using them to help develop in us humility and the fruits of the spirit. If we think that just because we are hurt in the church, that we have the right, as those purchased by Christ on the cross, to leave and separate, then we really have a greater lesson to learn. Part of that lesson is that Christ died for the people who hurt us as well. They belong to Him, just as we do. We need to keep that in mind when it comes to being a part of the church.
As a personal note, you need to know that I have been hurt by the visible church (on the presbytery level). But I keep coming back. Why? Because this is where Christ works in the lives of His people. I want God to work in my life. I want God to work in the lives of other believers and He does so in the church. Yes, the church is a hard place to worship at times. But it is still God’s chosen means to grow us and work in us, so that we become more Christ-like. If we take our eyes off of Christ and focus on the fallen nature of the church, we will all bail. But when we remember that He, our loving Savior, has called us to be a part of His body, then we see our need to return, to join, and submit to the leadership of the church. Yes, the church is broken. It will always be broken until He returns to call us all home, But it’s where He has called us to be.