One of the pleas of our group of Churches from the beginning is to restore the Church to its original form. While I like the idea, because there were many wonderful things about the Church as it is revealed in the New Testament, it also had problems. It may be hard to believe, but the group of believers who immediately formed after Jesus left and who were led by the apostles, had issues. The list of their struggles in faith is detailed in almost every book of the New Testament.
-Some of them did not believe Jesus rose from the dead.
-A couple of people lied about their offering and died in Church.
-A group of believers was neglected in the Church giving, and they complained about another group.
-It was tough to allow the Gentiles into Church, and many would not believe it.
-There were doctrinal struggles about how to handle the Old Testament.
-Church leaders had disagreements.
-Faith as the means of salvation was a difficult concept for some to accept.
-One Church had a guy who left his wife and moved in with his stepmom in a sexual relationship.
-The Church in Corinth had a division between the rich and poor at communion.
-Some leaders believed they were superior to Paul, and he was not worth listening too.
-Ladies were fighting in their meetings.
-Another Church seemed to have people who did all kinds of crazy things in worship.
The list could go on and on. The book of Acts details problem after problem with the Church on every page. Each one of the letters was written to address at least one issue and sometimes multiple difficulties. The book of Revelation has letters written to the believers in seven Churches, and most of them are not doing well.
What fascinates me about this, through all their problems, the Church continued to grow and spread. People were willing to suffer for their faith and even die. There are only a handful of accounts of people leaving the community of faith, even with all its problems. They saw the positive in what they were trying to accomplish despite all the issues. Those believers trusted God and knew they needed to work through their differences for the good of the Kingdom of God.
I tell you this because I see so many people today leaving the Church. They tell me it has too many problems. Many of them can detail one bad experience or one lousy leader. Things get a little messy, and they leave. I am here today to tell you that the Church has never been perfect. It was not without problems in 65 AD, and it still has some of the same struggles today.
And believe it or not, that is okay. The Church is a group of people who are working out their faith together. Even with all its warts, ugliness, and issues the Church at its heart is full of people who love Jesus and are trying to follow him. There is no place like it on earth. NO PLACE. So, hold tight, don’t give up, keep improving, and who knows what God will do both in us and through us in the name of Jesus.