Now This is Church

Charlotte and I talked about this on the way home last night from our life group Christmas party.Christmas-party.jpg

In so many ways, this life group reminds us of what a church ought to be.

Last night, we gathered at Scott and Jill’s home. Almost everyone from our group was there, including some people who are very special to the group. As you might expect, this house looks and smells like Christmas. Yet, what is especially nice is that it feels warm and inviting, and conveys a sense of home. After a dinner of Mexican “stack-up,” our children led us in a number of songs. One played the guitar while the others sang. One of our girls read the story of the birth of Jesus. Randal took the annual group picture. We then went for a hayride. Adults and children sat on bales of hay as we sang Christmas songs and enjoyed being together. We then came back into the house to get warm and drink hot coffee and wassail.

Maybe I especially enjoyed this because it reminded me of the blessing of being a part of a church where a person can experience “family.”

  • A group like this can be “family” in the best sense of that word. For example, some people grew up without pleasant memories of being a family. Family was a place where people argued and fought. For some the holidays bring memories of loved ones getting drunk and acting in ways that are painful to remember. Years later, a group of believers like this can make new memories of laughter, joy, and encouragement.
  • A group like this can be a place where one can know that he/she is loved regardless. Real love is gracious and focused on the needs of others. Contrast this to being in an environment where you feel as if you are constantly being critiqued and found lacking.
  • A group like this can be a place that is safe. Last night four of our girls sang in front of 20 adults. Wow! That is incredible trust. As you might imagine, these adults responded with lots of applause and words of encouragement. I thought later of people I have known who have memories of preforming in front of adults only to receive teasing, digs, and even criticism.

A group like this is a place where we can learn to forgive. We learn that each one of us is flawed and in need of grace. In healthy small groups (which reflect healthy relationships), we practice forgiving and being forgiven. In essence, we experience church. When we practice this kind of love and forgiveness within the context of a small group of Christ-followers, we also learn how to practice that with our spouses and children.

Small groups are like churches. There is no small group of Christians that is perfect. Nor, is there a congregation that is perfect. Some of us seem to want this and occasionally a group or congregation will be held up by some as seeming to have everything in place. Maybe doing this gives some security.

The security of a family, a small group, or a congregation, however, is found in the Lord Jesus. In Him is found the flawless, finished work of Jesus.


Question

Why is it that so many of us seek perfection? Why do we often seek perfection in the perfect mate, the perfect family, the perfect small group, or the perfect congregation? What is the down side of seeking perfection in other people/situations rather than in God himself?


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8 thoughts on “Now This is Church

  1. I don’t know why so many of us look for perfection. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn. Perfect people and perfect groups of people don’t exist – if you think they’re perfect that only means you don’t really know them very well. Perfect situations don’t last – they’re transient. I am learning to enjoy the moments which are “perfect” and not expect them to last forever. And when circumstances aren’t so good, well, just remember, this, too shall pass. And always take comfort in knowing that God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

    • Connie, I suspect that a part of this is with many of us comes when we ignore what you said in your third sentence. “Perfect people and perfect groups of people don’t exist – ”

      To really believe this opens the door for relationships rooted in grace. That is, instead of demanding that a person do as I expect a good person should do, I become more thankful for every moment of goodness that comes from a person and more merciful of that person’s imperfections. In families and churches, this perspective makes an incredible difference in the environment of these relationships.

      Good comment. Thanks!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing, brother. I was thinking about the same thing before I visited your blog… and to my pleasant surprise, saw this! You put so succinctly what I have been thinking. Thank God for you brother!

    • Abraham, so good to hear from you. Glad to have this moment where we were thinking much the same. Grateful that you read this blog.

  3. I think it’s an age-old problem of humanity. Like the Israelites before us, we want a king, we want to go back to Egypt, etc., etc. We want what appears to be the easy solution rather than taking the “narrow road” of faith in Christ. This road is not always easy, short or problem-free, yet it promises us eternal and abundant life. In fact, the scripture plainly tell us that trials “produce perseverance” and yet we constantly look for the easy way. We want the life of ease NOW, not at some point later.

    • Pat, good point! We quite often settle for the easy and for whatever seems to offer maximum pleasure and the least pain. Yet so often that route is little more than an illusion. The illusion is that this route really does take us to a worthy destination.

  4. We want perfection because we think we won’t get hurt. The downside is even if everybody else were perfect, I’m not and I’d wind up hurting them and messing it up.

    • Darryl, I suspect that you are right. And-our desire to keep from getting hurt is quite often one reason why we desperately try to maintain the illusion of our control.

      Hope you are doing well.