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November 06, 2005

Comments

The Church is one of my favorite topics of conversation, and I appreciate your post (as always, it was great).

I recognize that this is an indirect response to your post, but, on the topics of the Church & love, I have been looking for a context to get this question out:

How does the Church balance the acts of 1) being repentant, humble, quick to admit fault and slow to defensiveness, & 2) defending Her honor as the Body of Christ? Is there even a legitimate place for #2?

For example, I’ve frequently heard unqualified, broad-sweeping comments about the Church’s lack of love. I think the best immediate response is admission of guilt, repentance, etc.

But is there a place for standing up for the Church, as the Body of Christ through whom the Holy Spirit is active, and saying, “Look how the Church started hospitals, freed slaves, sacrificed time & money after Katrina. Look at how Christian schools & shelters are popping up in inner cities. The Church has been a force for compassion & love in Her history, and the Holy Spirit is moving the Church towards the same now”? Even USA Today ran a piece about how Evangelicals are a leading force in worldwide social justice.

After seeing so much love & generosity from the Church over the last couple years of living in Houston, I feel like the Church’s kindness, compassion, & social conscience are oftentimes understated. We have a lot to repent of, but we also have a ton to thank the Holy Spirit for doing through the broken vessel of the Church. Or am I way off base?

I think about it this way—I don’t know any other organization in the world where the members so frequently blog about how they don’t serve the needy enough (granted, the only other blog I read is about baseball). Maybe that’s a sign that the Holy Spirit is doing a lot more than we realize through the Church.

Any thoughts?

Alex, I think we're compelled to lovingly speak up on behalf of the church. Where there are appropriate critiques, as you said, we should take our medicine, apologize and repent. But there are also a number of times where the critiques are launched from peanut galleries where people set up straw men of church inadequacies, "hypocrites", etc. in order to smokescreen their own unwillingness to bow their knee to the church's Groom.
In either case, the love of God serves us well to truly engage people full of grace AND truth. Thanks, Mac

Alex, I like that question and Mac, I like your answer.


It's interesting to me how various friends of mine reacted to Don Miller's "Confession Booth" scene in Blue Like Jazz.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/bcl/areas/missions/articles/101205.html

I LOVED it and most of my friends did, too, when we discussed it. But a couple reacted negatively-- they said how empty it was that Miller and friends apologize for Crusades when they didn't participate in the Crusades, how arrogant (and typically liberal) of Miller and friends to apologize to critics of the faith. I couldn't tell if these friends were more irritated with Miller's action or whether they were irritated with the fact that it seemed like something "liberal Christians" would do.

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  • Welcome to Common Grounds Online. Readers of Common Grounds have suggested a website to continue the explorations they began in the book. In keeping with the interactions of Professor MacGregor, Brad, Lauren and Jarrod, the theme of this site is ‘learning and living the Christian story.’

    I have invited friends, and a few friends of friends, to communicate aspects of the Christian story that have been significant in their own lives. We’re all trying to find joy and pleasure in this life and the next, but often we forfeit the joy that could be ours by living out foolish, competing scripts. What distinguishes Common Grounds Online Contributors is not our own goodness, achievement or service, but rather the recognition of our need of God’s grace abounding in our lives.

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