“If I had never joined a church till I had found one that was perfect, I should never have joined one at all. And the moment I did join it, if I had found one, I should have spoiled it, for it would not have been a perfect church after I had become a member of it. Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth to us.” – Charles Spurgeon
In a day and age where narcissism reigns it makes sense that people would do life by themselves, seeing as they are already living for themselves. In a time where Christ’s church is made to seem ignorant, intolerant and unnecessary, it also stands to reason many people would choose not to associate themselves with a community of Christians.
Some; however, seeming to sound very pious and yet being very confused, simply say with Bono, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” The two most frequent causes of this type of thinking, that I have experienced personally and as a pastor, are: First our consumerists mindset, which grows from our narcissism, is rooted in our sinful hearts and conditioned by our culture. It say’s “its all about me” and when it comes to a church, just like my jeans and sleep number bed, it better fit me perfectly and in a way that best suits and reflects what I need and I love about myself. The second cause is misunderstanding of what the church is and the significance it is meant to play in the life of a Christ Follower. Often like myself, this is learned through years of poor teaching and even lazier learning.
Quickly, the church is Christ’s beloved bride. It is his creation, his focus and his love. So if you want to learn about the church, learn from Jesus. What he says about her is to be believed and practiced by his Followers.
That said, Christ has not yet returned to sweep away his bride to be with him in a holy , wondrous and eternal relationship. She remains in the realm of men, surrounded by sin, inside and out. She is deeply loved, deeply cared and provided for by Jesus, but she is not perfect…yet. That day will come when He returns and sets all things, including imperfect churches (and people), right.
I love Jesus, but I am not perfect. As I grow slowly more secure in the gospel this becomes more apparent as well as slightly more acceptable. I am broken, but I am loved and accepted by Jesus. So it is with the church. Her blemishes make his love all the more profound. The church is covered in beauty marks, each of us darkening her skin while simultaneously embellishing her beauty, radiating the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ.
When you look for a church don’t expect perfection from her. Just as you are looking for a place that will welcome and walk with you as you are, imperfections and all; lets extend the same grace to her, seeing her as Christ sees her, giving kindness as you have been given grace and laying down your life as he laid down his for ours. When we look to join ourselves with others on the journey, let us not look first to ourselves, but to him and remember that our commonality is found the Cross not culture and our lives are best lived for him in the service of others and not ourselves.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” – Ephesians 4:15-16