There’s a lot of cynicism about the local church these days. People leaving pews empty on Sundays. Folks fuming about the failure of local church ministry to make disciples. Pundits pondering the effectiveness of the local church to transform the lives and loves of the next generation.
Admittedly, I’m one who struggles with the cynicism. That’s why I need to be reminded of the gospel and the One who bought His Church with His own blood. Paul Miller helps me remember that my hope is not to be placed in the Church, but in her Lord:
Instead of focusing on other people’s lack of integrity or split personalities, we need to focus on how Jesus is reshaping the church to be more like himself. We need to view the body of Christ with grace.
Paul delights in the influence of Jesus on people’s lives. It is at the heart of his praying. He doesn’t have a generalized spirit of thanksgiving; he is thankful for “you.” Even with the messed-up Corinthian church, Paul is thankful: “I give thanks to my God always for you” (1 Corinthians 1:4). Then he addresses their permitting of incest, suing one another in court, and getting drunk at the Lord’s Supper!
Because he keeps his eye on the present work of Jesus, Paul is not overcome by evil but overcomes evil with good. Goodness infests Paul’s prayer life. He is living out the gospel. Even as God has extended grace to Paul, so Paul extends grace to the Corinthians, He looks at the church through rose-colored glasses, tinted with the blood of his Savior.
Obviously, Christians are not better than non-Christians. In fact, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1 that the raw material of believers is worse than that of unbelievers. The Corinthians themselves prove that! Christians aren’t superior, but our Savior is. He makes the difference. He is alive and well in his church.
~ Paul Miller in A Praying Life, page 99.