I think one of the most unusually comforting thoughts for me as a pastor is the imperfection of the church in the book of Acts and following epistles. If you examine those Scriptures closely, you’ll find that we are not much different than they were. Deifying the apostolic period strips us of learning valuable practical lessons.
Today we embrace Paul and other men of God but, in his day, many considered them the off-scouring of all things. The early church was infected with sexual sin in some cases, involved in court actions against one another, and insensitive to each other’s conscience. Doctrinally, the spirit of antichrist was “alive and well”. Every epistle addresses some issue of error in either doctrine or practice.
I wonder how many local churches today are not developing in the Lord because the saints are expecting perfection from everyone in every ministry, with no allowance whatsoever for anyone at any time to “cross them up” or “blow it” (themselves being the exception, of course!). What was Paul’s prescription for imperfection? Prayer. Prayer both for himself and others.
I’ve had saints confess to me that they had spent more time criticizing and complaining about their churches than praying about the imperfect-ons. Does the Word say, “Complain without ceasing”? Tell me, would you prefer that I pray for or with you, or “get on the horn” and criticize you? I know that one reason God allows me to see imperfection is to get me on my knees.
Our society is bombarding our lives with this perfection mentality – the perfect marriage, the perfect children, the perfect home, the perfect career. Stop! Do we not today, even as saints, continue to “fall short of the glory of God”? Of course we do, every one of us. I’m deeply concerned about the “revolving church door” mentality that exists in our churches. Is there no longer any room for “less honorable parts”? Have we forgotten about forbearing and forgiving one another? Should we rip these verses out of our Bibles? I’m amazed how many unburied hatchets and “holy grudges” exist in our hearts when we ignore the complete meaning of Calvary.
Let’s get the plank out of our eyes, and put the stones down, and go on in the Lord, realizing that some day these imperfect, mortal bodies will be together with our Lord in glory! Any complaints?