In the post, Eric is making a distinction between the church and the organizations and institutions that are often created by the church. I think this is an important distinction. Why is it important? Because these organizations and institutions (in all of their varieties and flavors) tend to overshadow and even hinder the work of the church.
The church is not the institution. The institution is not the church. They are not the same. In fact, they are fundamentally different. The first is God’s creation. The second is man’s. They not only differ but in many ways oppose each other.
This has become increasingly clear to me over the past few months. It has helped me in discussing the things of the church. For quite a while I’ve been frustrated with the way things at large are going within the church in this country. This was because I saw so many man-made traditions shackling the life of the church. It all seemed like one big jumbled mess to me.
Yes, it is “one big jumbled mess.” And, it is often confusing to the people involved. What part is the church? What part is the organization? What part is of God and what part is of man? It really is “one big jumbled mess.”
Please take the time to read the rest of Eric’s post. I agree with him that understanding that there is a difference between the church and the organization/institution is the first step in recognizing the church.
Then, what happens when we DO recognize the church? At this point, brothers and sisters in Christ make different decisions. Some decide to separate from the organization/institution. Some decide to continue with the organization/institution. Perhaps others make other decisions.
For me, the important part is living in Jesus Christ with the church – either with the help of or in spite of the organization/institution.
Which decision have you made, and why?