Whenever I criticize the church, I get the feeling that I’m looking at myself in a mirror.
He is the Head of his body, which is the church (Colossians 1:18).
There are legitimate complaints about the church. This should not be a surprise because the church contains sinners. For example you and me!
My two-fold perspective of dealing with sin in the church…
The Church is the Body of Christ
I am a part of that body so when I become negative against the church, I’m becoming negative toward myself.
An observation: When I get negative about the church, I get more negative in my opinion of myself and in my attitude toward others.
Loving God, others, and self is the Great Commandment (Mark 12:29-31). All three go together. Get critical against one and you become negative of all. Christians critical against the church become critical of others and self.
When I rejoice and accept myself, others, and God – and the church which contains all three – I find myself thinking about what I can do to serve instead of what others have done to me.
I begin to model how God the Father dealt with sin and negativity – as God sent His Son!
Overcome negativity by doing good
Romans 12 is the best chapter in the Bible on overcoming negativity. You cannot – let me say this again – you cannot overcome being a negative person by continuing to be a negative person. (No matter how justified you believe yourself to be!)
Present yourself as a living sacrifice (v. 1).
Do not think more highly of yourself than you ought to think (v. 3).
Outdo one another in showing honor (v. 10).
Bless those who criticize you, bless and do not curse them (v. 14).
Live in harmony with one another (v. 16)
Do not be overcome by evil but overcome negativity by doing good (v. 21).
Let’s go to N.T. Wright for a moment. One of my most-oft-read authors is N.T. Wright. I disagree with a lot of what he writes – oops, hopefully not negative here, just being honest – but I agree with his summation of the church:
The family, that’s the church, is called to be a worship-based, spiritually renewed, multiethnic, gender blind in leadership, polychrome, mutually supportive, outward-facing, culturally creative, chastity celebrating, socially responsible, and fictive kinship group.
That’s my Pauline definition of the church.
N.T. uses the word “fictive” to describe the church. I have never heard this word used as an explanation for the church. Fictive defined means – how we perceive something.
Wow, the church isn’t perfect, but we are to pray that it becomes what scripture teaches it should be. In our prayers, we are to perceive a glorious church.
Romans 12 is a fictive statement describing the church as it should exist. I believe that God will make it happen in the end-times.
I’m also having “fictive” thoughts about you today. No more negativity!