Maybe you’ve seen the bumper sticker that says, “I love Jesus, it’s his followers I can’t stand.” While that might get a laugh, a honk or a thumbs up from other drivers, it’s an idea that simply doesn’t work in real life. When you belong to Jesus, you’re going to love what he loves–and he loves his church, made up of all kinds of followers, none of them perfect.
A quick look through the Bible (Old and New Testaments) shows the shortcomings of men and women who belonged to God’s family. The patriarch of Israel, Abraham, twice passed his wife Sarah off as his sister to avoid harm. The greatest king of Israel–King David–committed adultery and then plotted a murder to cover it up. The prophet Jonah ran from his assignment and resented the very ones God called him to speak his message to. Peter, Jesus’s outspoken and forthright disciple, denied three times on the evening of Jesus’ trial that he even knew Jesus, and the apostle Paul hunted Christians down for arrest before he came to know Christ. Even the thief crucified on the cross next to Jesus was assured a place in God’s kingdom when he professed belief in Jesus as the son of God.
Today, “big name” Christians make the news when they dishonor God by their behavior. In fact, the sins of Christians are far more newsworthy than their acts of faithfulness. So yes, there have been, are, and will always be “messed up people in the church.” We should not be surprised at the sin we see; in fact, we should prophetically call out and confess sin, even while fighting against the cynicism of those outside the church. For those of us in the family of God, a good rule of thumb should be, “Remove your log first. Do all in love.”.
Hebrews 10:21-25 “and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let’s approach God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let’s hold firmly to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let’s consider how to encourage one another in love and good deeds, not abandoning our own meeting together, as is the habit of some people, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
Video Segment: (02:47 – 03:43) [Jade] “God compares the church to family a lot. The church can be full of health or sickness. Members we love, and members that get on our very last nerve. … Which is all to say – church people are still just people. But we are called to be a family, not runaways. And I’d rather go to church with messed-up people who love God than go to church with religious people who don’t love messed-up people.”
“…gathering with the church can be inconvenient, but so is love. Relationships are messy, but so is love. Vulnerable conversations are scary, but so is love.” There’s No Such Thing as Virtual Church, by Jonathan Leeman, The Gospel Coalition, 8.18.21