In a time when many would say they are Christians without attending any expression of the Body of Christ, these words of Henri Nouwen are very appropriate.
When we have been wounded by the Church, our temptation is to reject it. But when we reject the Church it becomes very hard for us to keep in touch with the living Christ. When we say, ‘I love Jesus, but I hate the Church,’ we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too. The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the Church seldom asks us for forgiveness, at least not officially. But the Church as an often fallible human organization needs our forgiveness, while the Church as the living Christ among us continues to offer us forgiveness. It is important to think about the Church not as ‘over there’ but as a community of struggling, weak people of whom we are part and in whom we meet our Lord and Redeemer.
Henri Nouwen, “Forgiving the Church,” Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith, Harperone; Reprint edition (Jun 1, 2005)