Karl Friedrich Benz invented the first true gasoline-powered automobile in Germany in 1885, a 3-wheeled, 4-cycle internal combustion engine (via lib.gov). The vehicle has come a long way since then. To date, the fastest car on record (0-300 km) is the Hennessey Venom GT (13.63 seconds, guinnessworldrecords.com). The Bugatti Veyron Super Sport achieved the fastest recorded speed (267.857 mph) in 2010 (topgear.com). Benz may not have foreseen how fast or sophisticated the automobile would become. Given the speeds most cars can achieve, he may not have anticipated that people would get behind the wheel drunk or high, texting, severely sleep-deprived, or with car bombs. We would not blame Benz, Ford, or the Dodge brothers for the way Timothy McVeigh misused that Ryder truck in 1995. Who would dispute that the automobile, used properly, has made such a positive impact on the average person’s life for over a century? But, when abused, it has contributed to profound heartache for millions of people.
Paul reveals the church as part of God’s eternal purpose (Eph. 3:9-11). That means God had the church in mind from the eternity before creation! He sent His Son to shed His life’s blood in order to purchase the church (Acts 20:28). Paul affirms that Jesus loves the church and died for it (Eph. 5:25). We read of the beginning of that church in Acts 2. God intended for the church to be the means through which He receives glory and honor (Eph. 3:21). Untold numbers of people over 20 centuries of time have been blessed because they were introduced to and became members of His church. Through faithful, righteous members of His church, people have come to believe in, follow and fall in love with God.
That there are so many claiming to be members of His church who contradict His teachings, who have subjugated His will to the whims of the culture, or who have lived unwholesome, unholy lives to the detriment of its influence cannot be successfully disputed. That there are so many who are members of it whose attitude, hypocrisy, selfishness, prejudice, and exclusivity have repelled those who are not members of it can also be easily, if anecdotally, established. In a larger sense, those who kill and harm others in the name of the God of the Bible no more reflect the nature and character of that God than one who takes anything man made for good and misuse it.
What we can never do is mistake the abuse of the name of God, the Bible, or His church as the fault of God. He left clear instructions, a pattern for people to follow. If they do not follow it, they are to blame. The challenge for you and me, today and every day, is to be the best ambassadors for Christ we can be (2 Cor. 5:20). Let’s show the world the wisdom of God by helping the church be what He intended it to be!