The Church Isn't Perfect; Love It Anyway
"Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” (Ephesians 4:2, NLT)
Unity in any area of your life—in your small group, church, or family—requires you to be realistic in your expectations.
Many people bring unrealistic expectations to church. To expect any church to always do everything right and to minister perfectly to everyone all the time is just fantasy.
A church can be healthy, but it will never be perfect. A group of imperfect people will never be able to create a perfect community.
Psalm 119:96 says, "Nothing is perfect except your words" (TLB).
Everything on this planet is broken—the weather, the economy, our bodies, our relationships, our minds. Nothing here works perfectly except God's Word. To expect perfection in your church is to set yourself up for massive disappointment.
When people read books about the ideal church, they become cynical. Why? Because they're hoping for something that doesn't exist. When you discover what God intends real fellowship to be, it's easy to get discouraged by the gap between the ideal and reality.
Jesus passionately loves his church, even with all its faults and failures—and he wants you to do the same. If you're going to be Christlike, you must love the church in spite of its imperfections.
Longing for the ideal while criticizing the real is evidence of spiritual immaturity. On the other hand, settling for the real without striving for the ideal is complacency. Maturity is living with the tension of what you know the ideal could be and what reality is.
In parenting, you don't wait for your kids to grow up before you start loving them; you love them at every stage of their maturity. In the same way, you need to learn to love people at every stage of their growth, and you need to learn to love the church as a whole in every stage of its growth.
Other believers will disappoint you, but that's no reason to stop loving and fellowshipping with them. You're going to live with them for eternity—so you should be practicing now how to love them more like Jesus.
"Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love” (Ephesians 4:2 NLT).
Talk It Over
When you are tempted to criticize your church, what should you do instead?
Why is it important to have people mentoring and being mentored in the church?
How can you get a realistic view of what church is supposed to be and what your role in it should be?
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This devotional © 2022 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.