Anyone can find something to love in a best seller. If you really love books, you can find something to love within a book you snagged at the dollar store. You love watching narratives unfold, characters develop, and ideas take shape so much that you can appreciate those things even within the most convoluted, clumsily articulated books.
What if we loved Jesus so much that we could recognize and appreciate his qualities in even the worst of his followers?
It doesn’t mean you should cringe your way through sermons or clench your teeth through worship or prayer to prove your love for Jesus.
It means you can find something to appreciate among the flaws: that’s what Jesus does every time he looks at us. Seek the pieces of truth and glimpses of glory, wherever you find yourself in the global body of Christ.
Seeing the cup as half full instead of half empty doesn’t make you delusional. You know the cup isn’t full. But you appreciate what’s there more than you criticize what’s not.
This doesn’t mean that we simply ignore the faults in our churches and fellow believers. On the contrary, the more we love who Jesus is, the harder it is to tolerate misrepresentations or distortions of his character.
But no matter where you look within a church, and no matter how many churches you visit, you’ll always find something that’s not quite right or that could be better.
You will never find the perfect church
Flawed individuals cannot form a flawless group of people.
When you have the freedom to choose between multiple churches, countless reasons arise to choose one over the other. Some differences are theological and some are superficial.
“This church has a better teaching pastor.”
“That church has better child care.”
“I don’t like the way [insert church name] handled [insert situation].”
These may be deeply personal reasons. They may be completely valid concerns. But if you can’t find a church that satisfies you, consider these words from Charles Spurgeon, The Prince of Preachers:
You that are members of the church have not found it perfect and I hope that you feel almost glad that you have not. 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.
In his sermon, “The Best Donation (No. 2,334),” Spurgeon goes on to say,
. . .the Church is faulty, but that is no excuse for your not joining it, if you are the Lord’s. Nor need your own faults keep you back, for the Church is not an institution for perfect people, but a sanctuary for sinners saved by Grace, who, though they are saved, are still sinners and need all the help they can derive from the sympathy and guidance of their fellow Believers.
How do you respond to the imperfections in your church?
By Ryan Nelson