In a recent sermon, Brian Bill used the following quote from a blogger who calls himself Real Live Preacher: I keep getting emails from people who say, “Your church sounds nice. I wish I could find one like that.” Listen to how he responds: “Let me guess. You’re looking for a cool church, filled with authentic Christians who aren’t judgmental but also have convictions, hip and classic in just the right mixture. A church where people forgive each other, love children and worship in meaningful ways. A church where the hunger for truth is honored and people can disagree but still love each other and share a plate of tacos. Where people are committed to ’The Christ Life’ and it shows in the fabulous and creative ways they love the world.”
He continues: “That what you’re looking for? I got ya. I understand. Here are some tips to help you in your search: You won’t find that church Go ahead and grieve. You’ll have to make do with a silly bunch of dreamers and children, prone to mistakes, blunders and misjudgments.”
It reminds me of the famous line, “If you find the perfect church, don’t join it. You’ll ruin it.” There is no perfect church and there are no perfect pastors and no perfect church members. The church is a gathering of sinners, joined together by nothing but the grace of God. We’re all in the same boat, and even when we disagree about which way the boat should be going, apart from God’s grace, the boat is always just about to sink.
Years ago I heard a world-famous preacher say something like this: “Lots of people look to us as a good example and they pattern what they do after us. But if the truth be known, we manage to look good about two weeks out of the year. The rest of the time we’re just barely keeping our head above water.” I laughed when I heard it because I was very young in the ministry back then. Now I understand he wasn’t joking.
This afternoon my son Mark and I were talking and he said, “I like to believe the best about people.” God bless the optimism of youth. Far better that than the cynicism of those who trust no one and expect the worst of everyone. Go to any church long enough and you’re bound to be disappointed. People fail you, things don’t work out the right way, and our hopes get dashed on the hard rocks of reality.
Real Live Preacher is right. The church is filled with dreamers and children and people prone to mistakes, blunders and misjudgments. Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn’t understand human nature or the grace of God. And to think that God calls us beloved and Christ calls us his body. It’s amazing, isn’t it?