Today I saw what is perhaps the worst church sign theology ever:
“I come here to find myself. It’s easy to get lost in the world.”
Wow. No really. Wow. What stunning arrogance, especially the week of our Lord’s resurrection.
While it is certainly easy to get lost in the world (see the parable of the sower in Matthew 13), the world is not fundamentally my problem. The problem is that I am a sinner. I have wandered away from God. Notice the utter lack of personal responsibility. It’s as if sin is something done to me with no real culpability on my part.
If the second sentence is bad, the first is infinitely worse. Christ’s holy church does not exist so that I can find myself. What psychobabble. The church is where Christ is. And while it is true that Christ is “found” in the church (although I question whether he is found in that particular church), he is not found in the sense of being lost or hard to find. We find him in the church because he has promised to be there. It is not tricky or difficult. He said “wherever two or three people are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them.” So, find a church that preaches Christ crucified. There you will find Christ. The only tricky part is that so many churches promise to give Christ (by claiming to be “Christian”) and then only give you, well, you. They preach “you”, not Christ. In this sense it can be difficult to find a church where Christ is. But then the places that don’t do that aren’t “church”, no matter what the sign may say. The trick then, is finding a church that is really The Church.
The test is an easy one. (As developed by Todd Wilken) Does the church preach that Christ was crucified for you? If not, it is not the church. Talk about Jesus does no good if you are the one doing for him. Find a church where Jesus is the subject, not the object. Conversely, you will not be the subject. This is a church. Any other grammar construction, and you may have found a church, but it is not The Church.