This was the first negative thing that Acts describes happening in the early church. What a disappointment it must have been! Their idyllic community (of which the world remarked, "Behold, how they love one another!") fell victim to pettiness just like every other human community. The truth is, the church has always been something of a disappointment, particularly to those within her (no exclusion of males intended). This often results in a futile search for a real church.
William Willimon, a United Methodist minister, writes: "In a way, I have always had trouble finding the church... I have images of what church ought to look like, not necessarily a building with a steeple, but a group of people who are committed, long- suffering, courageous in witness, and bonded together in love. I keep looking for that church. Every few years the bishop sends me to a new church. Things begin well enough; I think 'At last the bishop has sent me to a real church.' Then, only a few months into that pastorate, I wake up to the harsh truth--the bishop has once again sent me to the wrong church. This church doesn't look like the real church at all. It is only a crude imitation, a sham. I keep looking and hoping. Where is the church?"
Willimon relates that lay people experience the same disappointment. New arrivals at his church at first think they have found the real church, but then, as they get to know the church, disappointment sets in. They leave and, again, go in search of the church.
The truth is--the ideal Christian community we all long for does not yet exist. It is in the process of becoming. A while ago there was a popular t-shirt which read, "Please be patient-- God is not finished with me yet." The same also can be said of the church.
©C. David Hess