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We Seldom Get the Church We Want

Last week – as the snow was softly falling outside and my wife and daughters were enjoying the coziness of the day and the fun of the lush white front yard, I was in bed with food poisoning. Worse yet, my wife had warned me to refrain from consuming what I had chosen to, promptly, consume. Needless to say, it was not something I wanted in my week. The saving grace was that it only lasted 24 hours – and I was close to good as new the next day. Moral of the story – we seldom get the week that we want.

In that vein of thought – We seldom get the church we want.

When we show up on a Saturday night, or Sunday morning – pastors included – we all have a “want” list. A certain kind of music, a particular music volume, a certain preacher, a certain style of preaching, even something as simple as a specified seat in the sanctuary. The list could go on and on to the moon. We’re all unique people with distinctive preferences walking into the same space every week. What do we do with that?

The first solution, you might argue, is to look at the Scriptures! Ah – yes! An astute solution – and yet, we find that, while the Bible clearly commands that the church not neglect meeting and that there be regular preaching, teaching, and singing of the Word, along with partaking of the sacraments – most of our matters of want are left wistfully unclear or untouched altogether by the Scriptures. While God has given much direction on the ecclesiology of the church – there is no passage that tells us what every element of the corporate gathering should look like. And thus – it’s left up to imperfect, fallible people to decipher what is good and profitable for the body of Christ week in and week out.

Why did God do this? Why didn’t he give us a checklist for all that’s ordained to be included in a weekend gathering? For starters… It’s certainly NOT so that we would have the freedom to shop around and find the place with all the elements on our own personal checklists (though in many ways Western culture has made this a trend in Christendom). I believe it has much more to do with teaching us a lesson about what it means to bear with one another in love – laying down our wants for the sake of unity.

I’m in the active process of learning – imperfectly – and somewhat reluctantly – that it is so much better to bear with my brothers and sisters, than to have my every preference and want attended to. God has made us members of the body to learn to attend to the other parts of the body (as Paul speaks of in 1 Cor. 12). And Jesus has given us his perfect example of sacrificial love that we too would walk in love, casting aside our own preferences for the sake of others.

We seldom, if ever, get the church we want. But when we lay down our wants and our checklists, I believe we find that God puts us in the church that meets our needs. Because, truly, our greatest need is to get our eyes off ourselves and onto the Lord and those around us who are co-laboring in serving the Lord.

Grateful for His church, and especially for this church.

In Love,
Pastor Ryan A.

Categories: Evergreen Connection