For the past week I have trudged around the beautifully mountainous Wyoming landscape. On my first full day in the “Cowboy State” my pack of friends and I set out in our rental van to find “The Church of the Transfiguration” in Moose, Wyoming. It took a park ranger and a half mile hike through the snow to arrive at our destination, but upon arrival we gushed over the rustic architecture and stunning scenery. Meandering through the church building I let loose a humorous declaration: “Welcome to BLDG 28 of the Tetons! The perfect church.”
“The perfect church?” one of my pals asked.
“Yea,” I grinned. “‘Cause no one goes here.” Now just to be extremely clear – my point was and is that there is no such thing as a “perfect” local church. Local churches are made up of people, and people are messy, imperfect, and sinful. Yes, I am all too keenly aware that this includes myself.
The church universal – all believers of all time – is the blood bought bride of Jesus and is therefore declared perfect by the Son and seen as such by the Father. You and I, as followers of Christ and children of God, stand blameless and holy before the Lord. Our position as redeemed rascals is unchanging and I am extremely grateful for the gracious, loving favor of our merciful Sovereign. However, as I have stated countless times before, we are not yet practically what we have been declared to be positionally. In other words, though we stand as righteous in Jesus, we struggle as citizens of God’s kingdom still entangled in a fractured world with a fallen nature. This broken practicality of the universal church bleeds into the local church. Therefore, the local church is a mess – a beautiful, redeemed mess.
Hear me say this – every single Jesus loving, Gospel (true Gospel) heralding, sin loathing, grace embracing, disciple making, God glorifying local church is going to be, at times, messy. That’s just reality. We are all broken and therefore we “break” our churches. We all – you and I – do our part in this ongoing carnage. However, this does not mean that we tuck tail and run from the local church. That would be wildly unBiblical. It would also be absurd since your biggest problem is you and you can’t run from yourself.
So, what do we need? We, as the church, need men and women who will rise up, dust off the decadence that has perhaps been their previous church, and within the beauty of the Jesus loving, Gospel centered church, embrace the mess. True, intentional discipleship is going to be messy. We are going to be hurt at times. cheap hotels . We are going to be confused. However, we must keep in mind that Jesus is perfect, and His bride – practically speaking – is not yet. It is easy to see faults in others, yet extremely difficult to navigate and uncover our own shortcomings. Therefore, we need Jesus followers who are astutely aware of their own struggles, deeply grateful for the grace of God, and ardently resolved to make disciples who grow from messiness to maturity. My prayer is that you and I fully, truly embrace the mess and all that comes with it. That you and I, and all of BLDG 28, uncompromisingly and authentically strive to be a family of followers of Christ who believe Biblically and live on mission in our city and around the world for the glory of God so that the world around us sees less mess and more beauty.