A friend tweeted this morning:
GODSCOWARD: “can we unconditionally love the church as she is while we work towards what she can be?”
My quick response (remember, I am on Day #5 of being sick and not in the best mood) was:
BENDUBOW: “@GODSCOWARD – only if she does the same for me!”
Of course, as soon as you say “only if” unconditional is out. The truth is, as followers of Jesus, we should indeed “love the church unconditionally as she is while we work towards what she can be.”
And, it also true, that “the church should love its members unconditionally as they are while she works to help them be what they can be.”
Sadly, this quickly becomes an infinite regression. The church’s inability (or, more precisely, choice) to not love its members unconditionally as they are is part of the failure of the church that I think we must love through. And vice versa.
So I realize my answer is not sufficient… for it gets us no where.
But the church doesn’t get a free ride either. Because the church isn’t actually something other than us. It is us. Simply a corporate representation of us. And as such, I think it is held to a higher standard — one presumes that the corporate and collective wisdom of the whole will be stronger than that of the individual. It is amazing how often I have heard “The church decided that… that was the churches call…” etc etc — as if the church is some separate entity.
We are church. Church, outside of we, is nothing.
The failure of the church is your failure and mine.
So yes, we should love the church unconditionally… while working for it to become all it can be. But when it fails to be that, make sure we start with the mirror and not finger pointing.