That Jesus founded a church no one but a fool could doubt; he said so himself. Indeed, I doubt any fool did doubt until men found it necessary to say to the church of their forefathers that they were no longer part of it. It should be noted that when men did that in history, they did not deny the need for a church, they simply denied that the church from which they had split was the true church; we see such rhetoric even now with regard to what has been happening in the Synod in Rome.
We forget, or at least I think we tend that way, that the church is an organism, not an organisation; it is the body of Christ. When we think of it as an organisation with rules and regulations, we get only part of why it exists; it exists because it was founded by Christ – it has been necessary for Christians in all times and in all places, because we are not simply embodied atomistic souls, we are children of the one God.
It is often noted here, not least by one contributor, that the Church seems full of sinners. He means, of course, the Roman Catholic Church, but he might as well say all of us, because we are the church and we are all sinners; we are not the more Godly because we go to church on a Sunday – though hopefully we are more Godly as a result of that. The Gospel of God is our common heritage: it is not Baptist, nor Roman nor Orthodox nor Anglican, and though all may sometimes have spoken as though it were, and although many will believe in their hearts it is theirs, it is ours.
The fruits of the Spirit are not pride and contention, they are love and understanding. The one Body grows. The Church is not, as some say, invisible, it is visible. But how we might ask, can it be so divided and disordered? What, I say, would you expect from a bunch of fallen sinners? Would you expect perfection? Seek it in the hereafter, and if we look at our own church, whatever it is, we shall see within it dissension and division so that even men who say ‘I am a Catholic’ will look at another and wonder how he can say it – and that is true of us all.
Baptism, the Eucharist and church elders are all parts of what we inherit from the Gospels and the Apostles, they speak to us of God’s redeeming love, and they tell us that human love can be made perfect only by the building up of the one body. We can, each of us, proceed only by the light and Grace gifted to us, but we can all try to discern how love can build us up. Two things alone are needed – love of God and love of neighbour: when we do that perfectly, then we shall see more clearly.