Monday, January 12, 2009

Offensive Phrases

Yesterday, Sarah and I were in a class at our church. The leader gave each of us a foam cup and asked us to use the cup to creatively show what we think of when we think of the word, church

I immediately knew what I wanted to say, but surely there had to be something else I could communicate.

Nope. I knew it wouldn't be the most comfortable thing, but this quote had impacted my life too much. I simply wrote it on the cup. It goes like this...

"The Church is a whore, but she's my mother." - St. Augustine

During times in my life when I either wasn't going to church, or didn't want to go to church, this quote haunted my thoughts. "The church is a whore, but she's my mother." 

The church is us, and this quote makes total sense to my heart and mind. You see, separating these two ideas is impossible. As hard as this may be for some to swallow, this quote has given me lots of hope through the years.

One of my favorite authors, Tony Campolo, explains the quote exquisitely. This is an excerpt from Campolo's book, Letters To A Young Evangelical.

"It is certainly true that our congregations have, at times compromised the radical requirements of discipleship prescribed by Christ, and you may find yourself put off by the church because of its failure to be faithful to his teachings. But I would urge you to consider this fully, and to think about the words of St. Augustine: "The church is a whore, but she's my mother." That statement brilliantly conveys how I feel about church. It is easy for me, like so many of the young Evangelicals I know, to note the ways the church been unfaithful as the bride of Christ... Unquestionably, the church too often has socialized our young people into adopting culturally established values of success, rather than calling them into the kind of countercultural nonconformity that Scripture requires of Christ's followers (Romans 12:1-2).

Why, then, do I encourage you to participate in organized religion and commit yourself to a specific local congregation? Because, as Augustine made clear, the church is still your mother. It is she who taught you about Jesus. I want you to remember that the Bible teaches that Christ loves the church and gave himself for it (Ephesians 5:25). That's a preeminent reason why you dare not decide that you don't need the church. Christ's church is called his bride (11 Con 11:2), and his love for her makes him faithful to her even when she is not faithful to him.

Through the ages, God has used the church to keep alive and pass down the story of what Christ has done for us. It is the church's witness that has kept the world aware that Christ is alive today, offering help and strength to those who trust in him. The story of Christ would have been lost during the Dark Ages if the church had not sustained it in monasteries where the Scriptures were laboriously hand-copied while barbarians were tearing down the rest of Western civilization. Church councils have protected Christianity from heresies by examining new theologies. Today, it is against two thousand years of church tradition that our modern-day interpretations of Scripture are tested. In short, it is the church that has preserved the Gospel and delivered it into our hands."

2 comments:

Alicia Marie said...

Great stuff John.Great stuff.

I'm Kate... said...

I love this post - and can DIRECTLY relate! I needed to hear this. Be blessed!

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