I have commented before on the inner resonance I often experience with Philip Yancey’s writings. In reorganizing a bookshelf, I came upon another Yancey book I didn’t remember I had: Church—Why Bother? As it turns out, this book seems a little weak when compared to the other Yancey material I’ve read, but it still contains some good stuff. See what you think of this:
Yes, the church fails in its mission and makes serious blunders precisely because the church comprises human beings who will always fall short of the glory of God. That is the risk God took. . . .
The composer Igor Stravinsky once wrote a new piece that contained a difficult violin passage. After several weeks of rehearsal the solo violinist came to Stravinsky and said that he could not play it. He had given it his best effort but found the passage too difficult, even unplayable. Stravinsky replied, “I understand that. What I am after is the sound of someone trying to play it.” Perhaps something similar is what God had in mind with the church.
The gist of this is often heard: the church, in God’s ideal, is perfect, but there is no ideal on this earth, and churches are made up of imperfect people. We can all agree with that. (Well, all but the stodgiest adherents of top-down religious structures, that is—those types tend to live in another reality even as they kowtow to traditional viewpoints and bishops and popes and egocentric pastors. Their way is little more than a “religion.”)
Where the rubber meets the road is when we come face to face with the imperfections in our local churches. How to live in the tension between the perfect ideal and the imperfect manifestation—now there’s a quest of a lifetime.