What is the church? And what can we liken it to in Genesis 32?
"And Jacob remained alone, and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the dawn. And when he
saw that he could not prevail against him, he struck his hip socket, so
that Jacob’s hip socket was sprained as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for dawn is breaking.” But he answered, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Then he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” And he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.” Then
Jacob asked and said, “Please tell me your name.” And he said, “Why do
you ask this—for my name?” And he blessed him there. Then Jacob called the name of the place Peniel which means “I have seen God face to face and my life was spared.” Then the sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, and he was limping because of his hip."
Despite the appearance of a few generations of enlightened christians, the church is not white, clean and neat. It is not shiny, happy people who have got it all together. Got it all figured out. It is not "good" people.
It is people who wrestle with God. It is people whom God has interrupted, disciplined, blessed and disputed with and instead of walking away, instead of avoiding, instead of running from or ignoring, these chosen people have struggled to understand and have had the faith not to give up. They are people who have been led to a hard place, a wilderness place, a place of darkness and death and dying and asked the question, "Why God? Why?" And not always gotten satisfactory answers. Leastways, not right away, if at all. And God not only allows this, He most often welcomes it.
"Cease to do evil! Learn to do good!
Seek justice! Rescue the oppressed!
Defend the orphan! Plead for the widow!
“Come now, and let us argue,” says Yahweh.
“Even though your sins are like scarlet, they will be white like snow;
even though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
If you are willing and you are obedient,
you shall eat the good of the land.
But if you refuse and you rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword." Isaiah 1
How can God be so tolerant? How can he be so patient? Because the church is His children whom He dearly loves. The church are those children who want to know why, Daddy, why?
"When I was a child, I
spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but
when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."