About 15 years ago, three German theologians filed a lawsuit against the Catholic and Protestant churches. They brought the lawsuit “on behalf of Jesus.” Calling themselves “brothers in spirit” of Jesus, they sued under a law that allows people to defend their dead relatives from slander. They argued that the churches’ role in religious fighting, wars and political intrigue was slanderous to the name of Christ. Probably.
But with a “zinger” good Christians can applaud, the German court threw out the lawsuit on constitutional grounds, saying that since Christ was resurrected, He is not dead and therefore they had no right to bring a case on His behalf! The so-called “theologians” who brought the lawsuit should have known better!
It’s like the story told of some church members who were upset about a night club right on main street in a small town. They were so disturbed that they held several all-night prayer meetings, asking the Lord to burn down that den of iniquity.
A short time later, lightning struck the tavern and it burned to the ground.
The tavern owner, knowing how the church folks had prayed, sued them for damages. His attorney claimed that their prayers had caused the loss. The congregation, on the other hand, hired a lawyer and fought the charges. After much deliberation, the judge reached a decision in the case. He said: “It is the opinion of this court that wherever the guilt may lie, the tavern keeper is the one who really believes in the power of prayer, while the church members do not.”
An atheistic philosopher named Nietzche once leveled a rather haunting accusation against Christians. He said: “If you want me to believe in your Redeemer, you will have to look more redeemed.”
Appearances can be deceiving. The true marks (the evidences) of the Church are not the imperfect lives of its members. The true marks of the Church are the gospel purely preached and the sacraments rightly administered. It will do no good for the unbeliever on the last day to point to either the weaknesses or the hypocrisy of church members as an alibi for his unbelief and contempt for Christ’s word and sacraments.
It is, however, a question worth asking: “If we were placed on trial for being Christians, would there be enough evidence to convict us?”
On this Transfiguration Sunday, what a noble thing if we baptized sons and daughters of the King are increasingly transformed into our King’s likeness.