Okay a little plea for care in how we talk as Christians and church leaders. There’s a little catch phrase that’s been doing the rounds for a few years that “The church is the only true hope of the world.”
Now, it seems to have gained traction among good, gospel hearted evangelicals. I don’t think we are taking about people trying to mislead. Also, I get what they are saying which is an important thing when properly nuanced
- People need to hear the good news that Jesus had died and risen and offers forgiveness and eternal life
- It is the job of the church to proclaim this good news. So when we fail to proclaim it then people don’t find hope.
I also think there’s an important corrective here to our modern western view where faith is completely individualised, so it is just about me, my bible and Jesus. It reminds us not to be consumers. We also need to put the church in its proper place as the body instituted by Christ. No individual or mission organisation can or should take that away. Parachurch organisations should exist to serve the church and not the other way round.
However, the problem with catchphrases is that few people take time to pick up on the nuances. Then all those nuances become assumed and then we forget them. We are just left with the catch phrase. And what a shocker it is. It’s the sort of error that leaves people either
- Seeing the church as a social institution and emphasising the benefits of community and practical care shorn of the Gospel message
- Idolising the church so that salvation becomes through membership of a body and infallible revelation resides in it. That way leads to cults!
The Church (worldwide or local) is not the hope of the world. It is a witness to the Hope of the World. Jesus was, is and always be our only true hope. We should always be ready to give a reason for the hope we have and that hope is in Him.