Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Hope of the World is...

I've heard a well known pastor and many pastors who emulate him say several times "The church is the hope of the world." Every time I hear this, I cringe. If you've spent any amount of time in the church or read the news, you know the church is flawed! You know it is not perfect! Just look at all the polls and surveys. It is said over and over that there is little evidence to show a difference between those who claim to be Christians and those who do not. This is why I cringe. I can't agree with the statement at all! To place the hope of the world in the church as we know it would be stupid! The church is made up of people: flawed, fallen, easily tempted, led away people!!!

A statement I could agree with is this, "Jesus is the hope of the world". I think this is what this well known pastor and his grrrr followers mean, but I wish they would say it that way. Jesus is the hope of the world and USES the church (defined as God's people). The church (defined as a building with staff and attenders) is not in and of itself the hope of the world (and I wish they would stop saying it that way!!!). God, as the head of the church, working through the church is the hope of the world. But God is not contained solely in the church. God is at the bar, God is at the mall, God is on the fishing boat, God is in the care, God is everywhere and therefore His hope is everywhere. The hope of the world is not locked in a church building, it is here and there and everywhere and for that I am so grateful!

1 comment:

Steve Turnbull said...

Well put.
I've generally refrained from repeating this statement, though I do agree with what I think (Bill Hybels?) is trying to say. The reason for my restraint has been the potential for exactly the confusion that you identify. It's not a building or a staff or a group of people that brings hope on their own. They only bring hope because they help connect people to Jesus.
Even granting that point, however, it is worth pointing out that God doesn't seem to have any other mechanism for getting people connected to Jesus than the work of the church. Sure, God is at work i the all the world, but He only does the specific work of the Gospel through the church. And the hope f the world only comes through the Gospel.
It's not that long of a step from here to say "The church is the hope of the world."