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26 Feb '14

My view of the church: Irrational optimism and deep realism

Posted by T.J. Addington in church
As one who serves the global church and has worked with hundreds of churches, some healthy, some not I have seen almost everything. It would be easy to become cynical or discouraged by the range of issues, problems and challenges. 

In spite of all of its flaws I have an irrational optimism for the church: Not because of how well we do but because the Holy Spirit is present and the church is His Bride that He intents to purify for the bridegroom on His return. And it is God's chosen instrument to reach the world and to make disciples. In spite of all of its flaws it is a divine institution with a divine mandate empowered by divine power. We may give  up on the church but Jesus never will!

That does not mean that I am not deeply realistic! God's people have an unlimited capacity for getting in the way of what God wants to do in His church. We rely on ourselves instead of Him; we allow what is to be missional to become institutional; we often lead poorly; live in disunity rather than unity and hurt the very people that are part of our family. 

Yet God remains patient, forgiving and continues to send His Holy Spirit to empower us whenever we ask! He cares deeply for His bride and will never abandon it. It's flaws do not reflect Him but rather us in every respect. And if we are the cause of its dysfunctions we ought to become the agents of its health and vitality. 

In whatever capacity we serve, every one of us either contributes to a healthy or unhealthy church. While leadership matters - a lot - the truth is that each of us influences the health of the Bride. The church has many critics. It needs many advocates. Which role do you play? While I am sure the heart of Jesus is saddened by much of what we do and don't do in the church He does not abandon it. He gave His life for it (for us) and we in return ought to love what He loves and be an advocate for what He is committed to.

Thus my deep realism but also my irrational optimism! Realism about us, optimism about God. And ultimately, He is the head of the church!