I’ve been looking for the “perfect Church” for a long long time but I haven’t found it yet. I’m pretty sure that there are a lot of you folks out there that are in the same boat that I am in. In my younger Christian days I was initially shocked to find opposition come from within the Church. My thinking was I expected it from without but not from within. I was wrong.
Now that I am older and a significant amount of water has gone under the bridge, my understanding about the “perfect Church” has changed. It’s pretty simple really, there are no perfect Churches because there are no perfect people, anywhere, within buildings designated as Churches or within homes where believers meet together or at the individual humanistic level. We are all imperfect, every one of us, without exception. That is a reality.
And, right from the onset we need to understand or clarify exactly what the Church is and also what it isn’t.
If you’re a Christian, church is not something we go to. It’s something we are.
You can’t disassociate from church as a Christian anymore than you can disassociate from humanity as a person.
We don’t go to church. We are the church. Going to Church is a figure of speech.
And it is important to acknowledge that the Church is part of God’s plan,
Ephesians 3:10-11 NIV says: “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Did you catch that part where the Apostle Paul says “the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms“?
Do you see what God is doing? He is showing His wisdom, according to His eternal purpose, that He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So what we are talking about here is God’s intent, God’s demonstrated manifold wisdom, that He accomplished in Christ Jesus, being made known to heavenly rulers and authorities. I like to think of it as we are God’s showcase, how He demonstrates what He has and will accomplish through His Son.
And how exactly does God do this? Via us interacting in the Church. It’s also part of God’s design that we should interact while we’re on this planet, face to face, person to person.
Colossians 1:17-19 NIV says: “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,”
Kind of makes you stop and think that we’re not doing all that well doesn’t it? And there is a reason for that thinking, the fact is we aren’t doing all that well. I could produce a list of things that we could do better but I’m sure you can easily make up your own list.
Yet there are some who would advocate that we disassociate ourselves from the institutionalized or organized Church for a variety of reasons. I could list the reasons for this too but again I’m sure you can make your own list.
But disconnecting yourself from community is actually less faithful than connecting yourself to a flawed community.
And notice that the early church did indeed gather. Gathering always leads to some form of organizing. To pretend the church doesn’t need to be organized is as logical as arguing that society doesn’t need to be organized. Because community is inevitable, organization is inevitable. Our ability to organize and to accomplish more together than we can alone is one of the crowning achievements of humanity, and our ability to work together makes Christian effort far more effective. It’s the unity of us working together under the leadership of our head, Jesus, and His empowerment of the various members of the body wherein Christ is glorified and God the Father is glorified.
And what are we doing, are we building the Church up, the body of Christ, or are we tearing it down or even worse, walking away from it.
The only one who wants us to believe that we are better off alone is our enemy.
Almost all of us who follow Jesus have had our lives changed by a flawed member of the body called the church that Jesus so passionately loves and calls his own. Think about that, key word being “flawed”.
We all know that the Scriptures admonishes us NOT to forsake the assembling of ourselves together as stated in Hebrews 10:25 Note that it says “as we see the Day approaching”. Are we seeing that Day approach? Are we assembling ourselves together?
Yet some would say that the Scriptures tell us to come out of Babylon as in Revelations chapter 18. I agree, we’re talking about the Tribulation and the coming one world religion that the Beast will showcase….. but we’re not there yet. Context in Scripture is always vitally important.
There have been many Christians that have been wounded by other so called Christians and Christians, some grievously. I know that, I have experienced that myself but not as harsh as some have. It is only natural for us to want to protect ourselves from being hurt again. But …. by protecting ourselves, we limit what Christ can do, in us and in others. I’m not advocating that you join yourself to a Church that doesn’t preach the Gospel, God can and will lead you to a Church where you can be at home. It won’t be perfect and you may get hurt again. It happens. But God can also heal and create bonds that makes up for the negatives. One of the greatest joys that we experience on this earth is the love and fellowship of some of our brethren, that also is a reality. I don’t know about you but I need that, in spite of the dangers, in spite of the imperfections. In truth, all real relationships are like that, marriage is, real friendships are,
There are some who literally can’t fellowship with others face to face, at Church, on a regular basis. I think of my friend Bill Sweeney who has ALS. He would if he could but he simply can’t. He does have many who fellowship with him via multimedia means. And he is definitely part of the body of Christ, the Church. And He is loved. Precious man and his precious wife Mary.
I have hurt others, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not intentionally but I’ve hurt them nevertheless. Where I am able to, I apologize and ask for forgiveness and try real hard not to do it again. It happens, to us and by us. We forgive because we also need forgiveness. It’s part of the process, it’s part of becoming Holy. It’s part of us growing in Christ and letting Him have His way in us. Don’t rob Jesus of His glory.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!