I read a book over thirty years ago called With a Church like this who needs Satan? and although I don’t remember much of the book’s contents, the title has seemed like more and more of a truism to me. I don’t need to say what it is the church does that makes me feel like this – we all have our own examples at both a local and institutional level. The Christian life and witness in our local communities and national society is difficult enough, without making it even harder. It seems to me that Christianity has not helped itself by our conduct and attitude and we do seem to have a propensity to self implode. I wonder if the Church has been too hasty to point the finger at those outside the Church when criticisms have been made, when really they are valid observations we would be mindful to own and address.
I do not make this observation as someone throwing stones from outside, I am fully aware I am a public representative of the church. However much I might prefer to say I represent God not the church that is a nuance that seems irrelevant to the people I meet in my work as a hospital chaplain. I am very aware when I talk about “a church like this” I am talking about myself (and not any particular local Church) and I have to be willing to be accountable to my own critique and seek to be a loving, accepting, forgiving, gracious witness to the Christ who called me to be a part of his body. I just wish we would stop pressing the self destruct button.
Reference: Clive Calver With a Church like this who needs Satan? Marshalls, 1981.