We’re living in a time when the church is struggling. Some are even advocating a “churchless” Christianity. The e-meditation that came to me today from Henri Nouwen keeps the perspective we need, in order to be both committed to the church and to be loving critics of it….
The Church, Spotless and Tainted
The Church is holy and sinful, spotless and tainted. The Church is the bride of Christ, who washed her in cleansing water and took her to himself “with no speck or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and faultless” (Ephesians 5:26-27). The Church too is a group of sinful, confused, anguished people constantly tempted by the powers of lust and greed and always entangled in rivalry and competition.
When we say that the Church is a body, we refer not only to the holy and faultless body made Christ-like through baptism and Eucharist but also to the broken bodies of all the people who are its members. Only when we keep both these ways of thinking and speaking together can we live in the Church as true followers of Jesus.
In addition to helpful meditations like this one, I’ve personally found Eugene Peterson’s book, Practice Resurrection, to be a good interpretation of the church and our participation in it.