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  • Writer's pictureAlvin Gozon

Loving the Church by Addressing Her Flaws




We usually hear fellow believers quoting these words: "The church is not perfect, but woe to the man who finds pleasure in pointing out her imperfections!"


This indictment from Charles Spurgeon is powerful, and we should agree with him on this matter. If we find joy and excitement in exposing the flaws of the church, we are sinning and we need to repent.


However, some people mistakenly use this quote as a blanket statement to condemn not only those who delight in pointing out church problems but also those who are just legitimately concerned. They try to extend this even to believers who are deeply sincere and mostly sorrowful when addressing such issues.


Discussing unpleasant matters in a proper context — without intentions of gossipping or public humiliation — is portrayed as airing the dirty laundry of Christ’s bride, considered an unacceptable conduct for a believer, and condemned as an unloving behavior for a church member.


Yet while there are correct reasons to avoid or even rebuke Christians who enjoy such discussions, these must not be applied to all who engage in church-related conversations. There is no scriptural warrant to do so.


We are called to love the church, and if we are to faithfully obey God’s Word, there’s got to be more we can do than just speaking about the good things we see in it. Yes, we must joyfully proclaim the pleasant stuff, but we also need to deal with the unpleasant ones.


In his book, Bully Pulpit: Confronting the Problem of Spiritual Abuse in the Church, Michael Kruger writes:


"We can convince ourselves that loving the church means keeping our mouths shut about its weaknesses. But what if that’s not what it means to love the church? What if loving the church means we want it to be sanctified so it reflects Christ’s beauty even more? What if loving the church means loving the sheep—whom Christ loves—and guarding them against the wolves Christ asked us to watch out for? What if loving the church means addressing the things that mar its reputation in front of a watching world?"

 

These are sobering questions, and we need to prayerfully assess if our actions reflect such love for the church. If we genuinely care for the body, then we should stop turning a blind eye to the unbiblical and ungodly practices in it. Failure to do so will lead us to be like the prophets in Jeremiah’s time, proclaiming “Peace, peace!” to people who don’t want to hear about an incoming judgment. To these Yahweh pronounced:


“Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not come upon this land’: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed.” (Jeremiah 14:15).


In contrast to these unfaithful leaders, what the body of Christ needs are truth-proclaimers: preachers and members who will open their eyes to clearly perceive, and unzip their mouths to humbly discuss, church-related concerns. We need brave Christians who will speak the truth in love — not only by acknowledging the church’s excellent qualities but also by addressing her evident flaws.


If we are truly committed to preserving the holiness of the church, our task is not to ignore the glaring problems but to address them sincerely and scripturally. In doing so, Christ is glorified and His Bride is sanctified. May the Lord be pleased to help us as we deal with this difficult yet essential aspect of loving the church.


 

Alvin Gozon is a member and worker at Scripture Alone Baptist Church - San Simon.

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