A Church for Imperfect People

by

Church sometimes presents itself as filled with people who have all the answers and who have arrived at a point of spiritual superiority and smugness, but then the world sees the inevitable proof that the people of the church are not as perfect as they first claimed – accusations of hypocrisy fly.

Even between members of the church there are pressures to show no weakness or imperfections. Tragically, this sets people up for almost certain failure, because they have cut themselves off from others who are going through similar struggles and the grace of God that flows when they all admit that they are helpless without His power & love.

Christ Community Church is an imperfect church filled with imperfect people led by imperfect elders and pastors.  This has become an incredibly freeing conclusion, because it creates an atmosphere where we no longer have to put on our church face and be something that we are not.  When we embrace our imperfection it allows us to be unbothered and welcoming to others who are also imperfect.  This in turn creates an atmosphere where real change can happen in the lives of people, not because of judgmental peer pressure, but because of a freedom that allows a sincere seeking of God that provides each other the space to grow in Christ, even if that means there will be a few failures along the way.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus speaks one sentence that unlocks the key to implementing this “imperfect church” perspective.  It’s found in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 7 and verse 12.

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.”

He encourages us to ask ourselves the question, if I were in their shoes, how would I want people to treat me?  When we answer that question, we know what we are supposed to do for others.

Our problem is we are human and flawed, and as humans our first concern is generally ourselves. What do I want? What do I need? This kind of thinking makes another person’s needs secondary.

The assumption of Jesus’ Golden Rule is that not only are we bent towards thinking of ourselves first, but that we will all, at some point,  be in situations where we will need understanding and help from others. So why not start treating people how you would like to be treated, because your time of needing other people’s understanding is coming soon.

As an example, let’s say someone you know has made a terrible choice – a very bad blunder, one they should have known better than do. They really deserve to be humiliated for such behavior, but instead, you stop and think about the words of Jesus, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you”, and you begin to see yourself in their spot. You ask yourself the question, how would I want people to treat me if I had made the same unwise choice?  You wouldn’t want to be scolded or humiliated. You wouldn’t want to be embarrassed by being corrected in front of others. No, you would want someone to say that they still believe in you, even though you messed up, you would want a 2nd chance even though you didn’t deserve one.  You would want someone to lovingly come along side and say, I believe the future will be better than the past, how can I help you.

A great example is found in Genesis 9.  God tells Noah to build the Ark. The flood comes and destroys the sinful world of Noah’s day while Noah and his family ride on the waves high above it all.  The water recedes and the Ark comes to rest and Noah and his family come out of the Ark and set up a new life.  Noah plants a vineyard and gets drunk.  Now if anyone ever deserved to get drunk it may be Noah after all he had been through.

Noah is so drunk that he is lying naked in his tent passed out. His son Ham comes in and see his father in this terrible state and then humiliates his father by telling his brothers about how wasted their dad is.

Ham doesn’t help him. He doesn’t do anything except expose his dad’s sin.

 

Ge 9:18 The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.)  19 These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the earth. 20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard.  21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.  22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside.  23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father’s nakedness.

 

Noah shouldn’t have been drunk, and is fully to blame for allowing himself to be in a very embarrassing situation, but look at the two kinds of treatment he received from his sons.  Ham was quick to humiliate his dad, but Shem and Japheth honored and respected their father and covered him with a blanket.  So if we apply the Golden Rule and ask ourselves the question, If I was Noah, how would I have wanted to be treated.  With the humiliation of Ham or the respect of Shem and Japheth?

Too often in the church we have acted more like Ham being quick to judge and scold than Shem and Japheth who acted in love and grace. I’m not suggestion that we ignore blatant sin and say it doesn’t matter – it does, but what if our first reaction is grace that causes us to cover our brother and sister’s humiliation in hope of better choices for the future and an opportunity to, without ridicule, point them to the ultimate answer to all sin and imperfection.

Christ Community Church is an imperfect church filled with imperfect people, and we know it.  We are striving to be more like Christ – but we know we’ve got a long way to go.  If you’re imperfect and desire a safe place to figure out how to follow Jesus, come join us, we’ll figure it out together.  And if one of us falls along the way, we’ll pick each other up, and keep on going .