When we look at the history of The Church, we expect to see examples of genuine passion for the Gospel of Christ. And we do. But we see so many other, lesser things as well. Through the centuries, The Church has been used to advance many personal agendas and wage countless bloody wars. The words of some prophets-so-called were less about Christ and more about self-promotion or ideological propaganda.
Some social reformers and oppressors will wear the authority of The Church the way hunters don camouflage, farmers pull on coveralls, or surgeons wear masks. For them, The Church serves a purpose. Its mention disguises the work in progress or protects the worker from contamination. When the desired goal is achieved, the garb is discarded. It was never central to the purpose at all.
The history of faith is riddled with this sort of abuse. That is regrettable, because it detracts from the intensity of the beauty of genuine faith-inspired transformation. The Church will change any society it touches, but not every change perpetrated in the name of The Church was the work of the members of that mystical body. Affiliation with some denominationally sanctioned structure [or one of its non-denominational cousins] has never made any person a member of The Church. That spiritual connection is the outworking of a relationship with the Church’s Founder and Finisher.
To the world, the church is an impure and marginally reliable source of aid and information. While it might upset some to hear me say so, I stand in agreement with that reading. I am not the judge of people’s hearts, but I know full well that some who come in the name of The Church are not, and never have been, spiritually connected with Jesus. Even those of us who apply our strength and our intellect to walking humbly before the Lord sometimes misstep or mis-think. God is perfect, but we are not.
I do not spend a great deal of energy correcting those who, with the best of intentions, make mistakes in the Lord’s name. One greater than I will see to their refinement. I do pray for discernment to see through the masks of malicious charlatans whose purpose in claiming the name of The Church is to draw good-hearted folk away from the Word and to dis-empower the Gospel preached among us. Enemies of the truth cannot be friends of God.
Not every voice that claims to speak for God speaks the truth. It is the nature of evil to bend the truth and warp the message. When the truth is offended, it is the enemy who is at the gate, even if the speaker is wearing the guise of The Church. God send us Christians in name and in truth.
Many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will mislead many… At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.Selected words of Jesus from Matthew 24