Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Dear Lord And Father Of Mankind"1 (Lyrics)
Titus 3:3a,4-5a – Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. But — when God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. (NLT)
"The church failed me!" I used to say. My two sons were abused by their choirmaster. The youngest died, and my eldest lives with the impact. I saw that church as a body of sinners, the kind of blame that much of the outside world gives to Christianity today. I did not go back, but without a church home, I could not go on. So eventually, suspicious and with many tears, I found another. Shortly afterward and unexpectedly, their minister asked if I would take their church history and write excerpts from it for a year of Sunday bulletins. It didn't sound too difficult at first. In 200 years, they had gone through a cholera epidemic that killed one of their ministers, had kept the Word of God alive through fires and wars, and had cared for the poor and imprisoned. But then, I reluctantly saw that there had also been schisms, injustices, and downright unchristian behaviour of the sort that the apostle Paul warns against in the Epistles. Undoubtedly, there had been unrecorded abuse. Why, they were no better than my previous church!
I felt hopeless. Where could I find a church without these problems? As I prayed, the Apostles' Creed came to mind. I said that I believe in the communion of saints, by which it means the church. Sinners, sure, but the difference between a saint and a sinner is God's grace. None of us can be saints on this planet. We are all on a spiritual journey, looking for the high calling of God in Christ Jesus: to be like Him. Though we continually fail, we ask God's forgiveness through Christ, we claim that forgiveness, and then we move on in a fellowship of believers with whom we share our faith and the peace that this brings to our hearts. The "communion" means that we are still becoming like Christ, both as individuals and as a church.
2 Timothy 2:22b – Pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts. (NLT)
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for Your clear teaching about what "church" really is and where we fit into it. How grateful we are for the apostle Paul and his many examples, writing to the churches of his day, to help us to see our place in the body of Christ and to witness to the world of Your grace and mercy. Especially, we thank You for the difficult ones among our members with whom we can grow, as we practice loving them, along with the occasional sweet ones who, to us sinners, seem almost to approach the definition of saint. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.