The hope of the world

While I was at the Willow conference, I heard a phrase that really bothered me. The woman who organized the entire conference was speaking from the main stage, and she said, “The local church is the hope of the world.” What?

As I’ve thought more about this statement, I’m bothered even more. Isn’t Jesus the hope of the world? I’d really like to say that she modified her statement to say something like this, but it didn’t happen.

It seems strange to me that someone would believe this. My first thought is that if it’s true that the local church is the hope of the world, then we are all in big trouble. Do I really need to mention all the ways in which the church is messed up?

I’ve heard phrases like this from other places, and the speakers seem to like this passage in Eph 3.10. I hear them say, “See, it’s through the church! God has chosen to act through the church. The church is the main vehicle for God’s grace on the earth.”

I’m no scholar, but it seems to me that Paul is saying, if anything, that the wisdom of God will be shown through the church to those in the heavenly places. He’s not saying that the wisdom of God (or anything else) will be shown to the world, and he is definitely not saying that the church is the hope of the world.

I’m all for the local church representing Jesus, and spreading hope, and doing the things we’re supposed to be doing. However, shouldn’t we be putting our hope in Jesus, not the local church?

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