One of the biggest mistakes we make when we think about the role of the church community in the world is to forget exactly what God is presenting to the world when he presents the church. Much disappointment, hurt, and unfulfilled expectations arise out of getting this wrong. When God presents the church to the world he is not presenting perfection. He has done that already, when he presented Christ to us all. Jesus lived the perfect life and showed the world, for a brief thirty-something years, what perfection really looks like. When God presents the church to the world he doesn’t present perfection, he presents grace. He presents a community where the perfection of Christ is slowly doing it’s work of grace to ensure that ultimately this earthly community will be transformed into perfection.
If you think that God is presenting perfection when he presents the church then any sort of failure, frustration or hurt experienced in community will greatly disappoint you and also significantly reduce your commitment levels to such a body. Your suspicion will be heightened and you’ll find yourself mistrusting much of the teaching and activity of the church community.
If, on the other hand, you think God is presenting grace when he presents the church then you’ll see that experiences of failure, frustration and hurt need not lead to disappointment and mistrust, but rather to forgiveness and reconciliation. Brokenness (both within yourself and in others), instead of crippling your relationship with the church will instead lead to opportunities for redemption and testimony of God’s working.
A lot of people in our city are hurting because they demanded perfection and found the church wanting. A lot of people in our city are missing the amazing redemptive joy that comes from being in a community of grace. Grace says “ultimately our performance doesn’t define us. We are instead defined by the perfect performance of Christ.” How do you view the church?