The Church Besmirched
Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? Psalm 15:1
suggested further reading: Matthew 13:24–30
If we wish to be reckoned as children of God, we must obey the Holy Ghost, who teaches that we must show ourselves to be God’s children by living a holy and upright life. It is not enough to serve God by outward ceremonies; we must also live uprightly and without doing wrong to our neighbor.
Too often we see the church of God defaced by impurity. To prevent us from stumbling at what appears so offensive, we must distinguish between those who are permanent citizens of the church and strangers who are mingled among them for a time. This is a highly necessary warning. It is given so that when the temple of God is tainted by impurities, we may not be filled with such disgust and chagrin that we withdraw from it. By impurities, I mean the vices of a corrupt and polluted life. If religion continues to be pure in doctrine and worship, we may not stumble so much at the sins that people commit to rend the unity of the church.
Yet the experience of all ages teaches us the danger of being tempted to lose heart when we behold sin and corruption in the church of God. The church should be free from all pollution and to shine in uncorrupted purity, yet she cherishes in her bosom many ungodly hypocrites or wicked persons. Some people separate themselves from the fellowship of the godly because they do not believe that a church in which vices are tolerated can be a true church. But in Matthew 25:32, Christ justly claims as his peculiar office that he will one day separate the sheep from the goats. He thereby admonishes us to bear the evils that we do not have the power to correct until all things become ripe, and the proper season of purging the church arrives.
for meditation: Gandhi reportedly said, “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” We ought to mourn for the church when those outside it can see so much evil in it. How should we evangelize such people?