Linus, the blanket-toting theologian of the Peanuts comic strip, once insisted, “I love mankind. . . it’s people I can’t stand.”
Linus could well have been describing the Church. The Bible depicts the Church as rich in kinship (Acts 2:42-47), known for good deeds (1 Pet. 2:12), marked by love (Jn. 13:34-35), and destined to be a glorious church without spot or wrinkle (Eph. 5:27).
But the people in the Church, that is another thing altogether.
Real life believers are marred by immaturity, weakness, and casual obedience. They worship at their convenience. They are preoccupied with this world. They get entangled in petty slights, misunderstandings, quarrels, and outright sin.
At times the variance between biblical descriptions and actual reality in the Church is deeply disappointing. Dietrich Bonhoeffer captured these moments in Life Together, pp. 35-38: “A great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves, is bound to overwhelm us . . .”
Surprisingly, Bonhoeffer also saw disillusionment as a turning point. This great disenchantment, he wrote, compels us to hold firmly to the truth “that God has acted for us all"--that all who follow Jesus, without exception, live together "through sin and need under the blessing of God's grace."
Disillusionment drives us back to the forgiving and transforming grace of Jesus Christ.
And who are we to question the pace of Christ’s redemption? It is better to praise Him for glimmers of radiance as they occur while we wait in faith and hope for the full redemption of his chosen people.