Read 1 Corinthians 1:4-9
4 I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you,now that you belong to Christ Jesus. 5 Through him,God has enriched your church in every way-with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge. 6 This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true. 7 Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8 He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. 9 God will do this,for he is faithful to do what he says,and he has invited you into partnership with his Son,Jesus Christ our Lord. (NLT)
We do meet people who have no particular hostility to Jesus but who are turned off by the church which claims to represent him. We may have met Christians who genuinely seek to follow Jesus and yet who have been wounded by the church in which they once worshipped him. The imperfections of the visible church have either caused them to be wary of Christianity or cease to practise that Christianity in a communal context.
We ought to have some sympathy for those who can’t see Jesus through the terrible ‘clutter’ of instances of child abuse,or through the unscrupulous machinations of religious celebrities who promise the world if only we will promise to give them money. And most of us who follow Jesus can point to the wounds inflicted on us by his church.
Which brings us to Paul as he opens his letter to the Corinthians. These people gave him no end of trouble and were desperately immature and arrogant. And yet he somehow sees beyond who they are to who they might aspire to be. He sees beyond them to Jesus.
May our legitimate disappointment with the church not poison us to the grace of Jesus. May this disappointment rather cause us to realise our own shortcomings. May it cease to be a toxic frustration and more of a deep longing to make things better. May we address the imperfections while always remembering the bride of Christ is not yet free of the spots and wrinkles of fallible humanity.