Sometimes sin is corporate. It’s not hypocrites in the Church; it’s a hypocritical Church. We present ourselves in one way—we tout a religion of love, joy, and peace—but act in another.
First, let’s clarify: God has always had a remnant, a group of people, no matter how small, who remain true to him. Even when Israel rejected Yahweh and chased after other gods, a remnant remained faithful. So when I say, “The Church sins”, I speak of a corporate failure of the body of Christ, not the failure of every individual within that body.
How has the Church sinned?
On the large-scale, I immediately think of the Crusades—the period in Medieval times where Christianity became state-driven (referred to as Christendom, the start of which being Charlemagne in 800). I also think of times when the Church has failed to stand up for truth. Nazi Germany, for example.
On the small-scale, I think of members of churches I’ve been in who have been wronged by the majority of their home church body, their family—gossiped about, rejected unfairly, blamed unjustly, not stood up for when they were victims. Or what about when churches refuse to partner with other denominations because of theological differences or prejudices? Perhaps a group within the church slanders another group because of worship style preference.
When God’s people sinned and remained unrepentant, they suffered consequences. But God had a prescription:
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
Heal their land. The sin of God’s people was ruining their livelihood, their very existence. And after failing to humble themselves and return to Yahweh, God’s people were subjected to the consequences of their sin, just as God had warned.
But God pursued his people. This time, after war and deportation, his people answered the call.
“They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the LORD their God.” Nehemiah 9:3
God’s call to his Church remains: humble yourself and pray.