Yes, God transforms people, and many immoral lives are turned around by the power of the gospel. Sometimes it happens in an instant, but usually only after decades of struggle. The gospel remains the power of God to save. Yet in the church of the Crucified (versus the church of visionaries), we’re going to find a King David””that “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) who still dabbled in adultery and murder. We’re also going to see a lot of weeds. And a lot of pious people who display impressive religious behavior and proven effectiveness””what’s more effective than casting out demons or doing mighty works? ””but don’t know Jesus.
Jesus told us not to judge who is in and out of the kingdom, lest we be judged. And he told us not to weed ahead of time, lest we pull out some wheat as well. Instead, he suggests we put aside our grandiose visions of what the church should be and learn to live in the church as the paradoxical thing it is.
That will mean, of course, that we’ll always mystify the scientific pollsters and visionary reformers. They’ll continue to point to survey after survey and conclude that the church looks pretty much like the rest of the world, and they’ll continue to wail and beat their breasts. That’s because they do not have eyes to see the treasure lying hidden in the cracked and decayed earthen vessel called the church.
I am with Mark on the brokenness and earthiness of the church, but this is too Protestant. There needs to be also a sense of the church as a sign of contradiction as the Roman Catholics understand and too many of us do not. Read it all–KSH.