It should come as no surprise that in Western culture, triumphantly individualistic as it is, institutions tend to suffer in people’s estimations. Christians, shaped too much by this culture, predictably have a diminished appreciation even for their very own institution. They may recognize a certain need for the church, but neither loyalty to and love for her, on the one hand, nor a conviction that an individual Christian’s fortunes are bound up with those of the church, on the other, is as central to Christian piety as in earlier ages. Christians nowadays do not typically sing songs in their worship that express the same sentiment as did the once treasured hymns “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken,” “The Church’s One Foundation,” or “I Love Thy Kingdom Lord.”
To be sure, it isn’t always easy to think the church glorious or to “prize her heavenly ways.” She has often disgraced herself, and many times, though our spiritual mother (Gal. 4:26), she has done her children more harm than good.
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