What does the church of Jesus Christ really look like?
Of course, I am not talking about the architectural style of the building in which it meets, but what a local body of believers looks like. We know the church should be sound in doctrine and zealous in proclaiming the gospel. But how does a sound church really function?
Where any people are endeavoring to serve and honor Christ, there are also ongoing struggles.
Some think of it as a haven of rest where God’s people find refuge from the daily pressures of life. And indeed, there is a rest found in hearing the Word of God proclaimed and in fellowship with other believers. But often there is failure to see that where any people are endeavoring to serve and honor Christ, there are also ongoing struggles.
In his excellent book Instruments In The Redeemer’s Hands, Paul David Tripp describes what a functioning church really looks like:
“The church is full of people who have lost their way and don’t even know it, who haven’t made a connection between their daily problems and the transforming grace of Christ. Everywhere you look, you will find couples who are struggling to love, parents who are struggling to be patient, children who are attracted to temptation, and friends who battle the disappointments of imperfect relationships. This is 100 percent of the church’s membership!
The church is not a theological classroom. It is a conversion, confession, repentance, reconciliation, forgiveness, and sanctification center, where flawed people place their trust in Christ, gather to know and love him better, and learn to love others as he has designed. The church is messy and inefficient, but it is God’s wonderful mess—the place where he radically transforms hearts and lives.”
If you happen to be one of those “messy”, “flawed” people yourself, do not shy away from the church.
Don’t be surprised when you are welcomed by people who are just like you: messy and flawed.
In fact, look one up this Sunday, walk through the doors at worship time, and don’t be surprised when you are welcomed by people who are just like you: messy and flawed. But that’s okay. This is God’s wonderful mess, where he is radically transforming hearts and lives.