Feature

When the Church Gets it Right

Practicing first century values in a twenty-first century crisis

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Before COVID-19 caught the world’s attention, I had been researching and writing a book on the New Testament churches and their abundant applications to today’s Church. I delight in her beauty while being well aware of Her brokenness. She’s holy; she’s also stained.

My study and writing have enlarged me greatly, and I look forward to sharing this book we plan to release within the next few months. In reaching its conclusion, I found myself asking, “Did I adequately present the Church in her beauty? Have I properly and proudly placed that photo on the mantle?” While that passage was written prior to the COVID-19 crisis, those words ring even more true at this moment.

Without negating all that has been said of the Church’s shortcomings and sinfulness, these closing words would not be complete without admiring the loveliness of the Bride. Yes, her attractiveness is fully the result of Christ’s provision. He has redeemed her for Himself, rescued her from the dark kingdom, and raised her to life. He’s clothed her in His own righteousness and fills her with His very own Spirit.

It is Jesus who makes the Church holy, passionate, loving . . . beautiful.

Yet, confessedly, these are spiritual truths that the watching world rarely sees or understands. However, the Church has had countless, vivid demonstrations of loveliness that give those willing to observe reason to admire.

When the Church gets it right:

  • Love—pure and selfless, giving, and forgiving—enters and changes storylines.
  • Hope—with its head-lifting, heart-warming power—overcomes despair.

When the Church gets it right:

  • Racism is revealed for all its ugliness and replaced with genuine respect and community.
  • Materialism is revealed for all its shallowness and replaced with joyful stewardship and generosity.

When the Church gets it right:

  • Relationships are healthier.
  • Children are safer.
  • People are kinder.
  • The planet is cleaner.

When the Church gets it right—and she has, over and over, from era to era and community to community:

  • Singleness is sanctified.
  • Marriages are consecrated.
  • Life is valued and protected.
  • The elderly are cared for and respected.

When the Church gets it right, peacemakers and reconcilers; grace-givers and mercy-grantors; justice-defenders and way-makers all have world-bettering impact. When the Church gets it right, the imprisoned and the impoverished; the marginalized and the misunderstood; the unfriended and the unnoticed find acceptance, opportunity, and the pathway to a new life trajectory.

When the Church gets it right, those living with loneliness and loss discover that this is not the last chapter of their story. Community is available—acceptance and healing are real.

Across the globe today there are countless, tangible expressions of love and compassion through the Church living out its calling to be the Church: orphanages, women’s and children’s shelters, schools, rehab centers, hospitals, clinics, dispensaries, rescue missions, and homeless shelters. As we in the Church observe needs, we mobilize to fund disaster response and clean-up, provide crisis counseling, and rebuild homes.

The Church frequently leads the way in clean water and food security initiatives. The Church often mobilizes efforts in sustainable agriculture, prison reform, job training, community development, and sex-trafficking rescue and prevention. The Church has a long history of seeing those the world overlooks—the prisoner, the orphan, the deaf, the disabled, the refugee, the widowed, the unemployed.

Yes, when the Church gets it right, as she often does, there are fewer lonely, hungry, thirsty, sick, sex-trafficked, marginalized, forgotten people in this world. More of everything that makes life better becomes available—from our neighborhoods to the nations and to the nations that have come to our neighborhoods—when the Church does Church well.

Moreover, when we are at our best, the life-changing good news message—the gospel of Jesus Christ—is sweetly interwoven into these acts of kindness and justice. Our good deeds, abundant and world-blessing though they be, are never complete without the love story of our Creator winsomely told. In the telling and receiving of the Christ-message, joy is multiplied.

So, with pleasure, I restate: when the Church gets it right, she is beautiful. When the Church fulfills the intentions of our Lord Christ and His character is revealed through us, then days both ancient and present evidence comely qualities that even a skeptical world can appreciate.

When the Church lives as our initiating Christ intended, then the photo on the mantle displays images that are truly admirable. Pause for a moment. Gaze into the frame . . . and be encouraged.

3 responses to When the Church Gets it Right

  1. Thank you Mr.Stumbo, for the beautiful portrayal of Christ’s church reflecting Him to a broken world. May I add one more neglected on the list to whom the church has been merciful: THE UNBORN.
    Thank you again for seeing Her beauty.

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