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What is the church? The church exists on two levels: at one level it is a human organisation; at another level it is what the prayer book calls the ‘blessed company of all faithful people’ – the mystical body of Christ which is ‘the blessed company of all faithful people’.
So there are two sides to the church – the spiritual side and the human side. In much the same way, a piece of needlework has two sides – the working side where you can see the rough ends, and the picture on the other side, which is the point of it all. The working side is necessary but it’s not what it’s all about.
The human organisation side of the church is not what it’s all about, (even though it’s essential), but it has a tendency to take over. The church needs constant renewal: it needs to remember that it is above all a spiritual community.
The church is subject to a number of temptations: power easily corrupts the church; ‘extremist’ purity, where we fail to acknowledge our own impurity; pride, and particularly spiritual pride, and a tendency to get pleased with itself – pride here is ultimately self-defeating.
The church needs to move beyond these temptations: it must be the mystical body of Christ…