2 Corinthians 5: 16-21
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Christ’s mercy in continuing his call to the Church in all its failure and weakness has taught the Church that its life must ever be renewed and reformed according to the Scriptures, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (6)
If we are honest, some of us find ourselves on the edge of the Church not knowing if we should be in or out. Trying to equate the pain and injury caused to some, with the endless hope and joy of Christ’s Church at its best, is a real struggle for many of us.
I cannot believe that God would wish us to suffer at the hands of the Church in its weakness, so I cannot blame those who run-to-the-hills in self-protection. It feels brave, if deeply sad.
The most theological conversations I have tend to be with my barber, dentist or postman. Each of them has shared something like this over the years: “I left years ago with all the abuse scandals”, “the Church is so rich and does nothing for the poor”, “the Church is full of hypocrites who talk about love, but show none”. These may be old or inaccurate stereotypes of the Church, but they are certainly signs of the failure and weakness that are part of our history and our present – if we are honest.
It does us good to be humbled and our Basis of Union does not shirk from this task, nor does it leave us in the place of shame.
Thank God, that Christ’s mercy is not dependent on our flawlessness!
God is always renewing and re-forming the Church, especially when we turn to Scripture to guide us and as we allow the Spirit to lead us in ever-new, creative ways.
Perhaps the Basis of Union reminds us that Christ continues to call his Church to be a sign of hope and resurrection to the world, even through its vulnerabilities and failings.
So, this is why I stay.
Because, at its best, the Church is a place of forgiveness, joy and hope.
At its best, the Church is happy to be reformed to the way of Christ, which is community, love and grace.
I stay, because Christ continues to call us, as we are, to be salt and light in our communities and ambassadors of love to the world.
Why do you stay in the Church?
we pray that your global Church will constantly be reformed in your image and always be a force of active hope.
We pray for those on the edge of the Church, those who have left and those who have heard nothing but our failings. May the light of your love shine to them through us.
As we go about our day, may we be a sign of what the Church is, when we let you lead.
With you is mercy and in you, we are a new creation.
Thanks be to God