Mention the word church and a vast array of images enter the mind. A steepled building housing a congregation; a movement of God across the centuries and the world; "one, holy, catholic, and Apostolic"; "visible and invisible"; "militant and triumphant"; "local and universal."
More images come from the Scriptures verbatim. The bride of Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the branches connected to the life-giving vine of Christ. But a most provocative and instructive biblical image is "the body of Christ." We are tempted, especially in the West, to view this body as successful, full of well-ordered, well-dressed, well-mannered people. But the Scriptures describe the church as a broken and weak body that, by God's grace, confounds the world by also being a hopeful body.