There are a lot of opinions about the Church in general circulating around our society in these days. I’m sure you’ve heard most of them. The Church is full of hypocrites, the Church only wants your money. The Church is full of gossip. The Church has too many cliques, you won’t fit in. The Church is full of conservative republicans who hate liberals. The Church is full of practical atheists, people who like to give the impression that they care about the things of Christ and want to live in line with His Word but in reality are no different from any non-Christian you’d meet at the grocery. The Church hates gays. The Church hates women. The Church hates immigrants. The Church hates anyone who’s not in the Church. The list goes on and on about the things people don’t like about the Church and those in it. People often tell me things like this and I usually respond like this: “Wow, you really think so?” They’d say “Yeah, I do. Do you think so?” I say, “No, I think it’s worse.”
I say that because I believe it. If people really knew what went on in churches, and in the lives of those who attend and lead churches, most people would never go to a church again. I’m convinced that most people don’t even know the half of what really goes on inside the walls of a church building. I agree that the Church is full of sinners and imperfect people. But you see, whereas most people see this as our greatest flaw, it actually reveals our greatest hope. The Church’s hope isn’t in any member or elder or pastor, indeed the Church would be perfect if no one were in it, leadership included. The Church’s hope is in Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of His Church. He alone is perfect, He alone is flawless, and if it weren’t for His grace, we all would be undone.
I mention these things because in our text today, James 4:1-9, we’re going to get a window into the church that James pastors, and it’s not a pretty picture. But as I said, where most would see this as our greatest fear, it actually reveals our greatest hope.