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"So, after 2,000 years, how do you think he's doing?"
I can't resist asking that question whenever I'm studying Matthew 16 with a group of believers. There we find the only recorded instructions Jesus gave to his disciples about the church. "I will build my church,
and the gates of hell will not prevail against it." He didn't ask them
to do it. He didn't give them a blueprint of an organization. He simply
said he would build his church and it would be strong enough to
withstand any assault by darkness.
So it only seems natural to assess how he's doing. If he's been at it for almost 2,000 years, what do we have to show for it? I've asked that of all kinds of people, even at pastoral conventions. When I do, you
can feel the tension in the room. People shift awkwardly, a few chuckle
nervously. They know better than to say he hasn't done well, but they
also know the church is fragmented by division, scandalized by
immorality, vilified for its arrogance, exposed by its misplaced
priorities and far from replicating the ministry Jesus modeled for us in
We either have to conclude that Jesus hasn't done an exceptional job, or consider that there is a vast difference between what he calls church and what we do