The online journal of Luke Dockery

The Perfect Church

A lot of people really struggle with the idea of the church.

You have the I-love-Jesus-but-hate-the-church crowd who are under the (mistaken) impression that somehow they can be faithful to Christ without being associated with His Body. Then you have the disgruntled church members who hop from one church to another whenever they get upset or offended by something or someone.

And honestly, I get a lot of the frustration that people have with the church. The church is made up of people, and thus, by definition, is imperfect and riddled with problems. I love the congregation where I work and worship, but it has its problems—sometimes people gossip, there are some people who struggle to get along with other people, some people have anger issues, etc. And I would venture to guess that your church is pretty similar.

G.K. Chesterton, the famous author and theologian, was once asked, “What’s wrong with the world?” He thought about it and then replied, “Dear Sirs, I am.” His point could just as easily be made about the church—the problem with the church is me and people like me, and the fact that we bring our problems into it. So before you start yearning for a perfect church, it’s probably worth remembering that it would cease to be perfect once you joined it!

It’s also probably worth remembering that the church, as imperfect as it seems to us, is also described in the New Testament as the Bride of Christ. What does Christ think about His Bride? Paul gives us an indication:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

(Ephesians 5.25-27)

If Christ sees the church as splendid, holy, and without blemish, spot, or wrinkle, what does that suggest? To me, it doesn’t suggest that He has poor eyesight and is just missing all of our flaws and imperfections; rather, it suggests that He has redeemed us, sanctified us and made us His own, and that His Spirit is working on us collectively and individually to make us what we ought to be. In other words, we don’t possess the characteristics mentioned above because we ourselves are perfect or amazing; we possess them because He gives them to us. He transforms us into what He wants us to be.

And it also suggests that if Christ can look at the church and love her and place great pride in her, then I can too, and that I can quit obsessing about perfection. Which is good, because any church I am a part of will fall short of that standard.

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  1. Mike Raine

    Great post and true. If God trusted Peter, after he denied Him three times, to grow and mature and “feed my sheep,” should we have a resemblance of that trust for our brethren? We are all in an imperfect state, being continually transformed into His image. God gave us trust on credit.
    Thanks Luke for your love and service to the Bride of Christ.

  2. Luke Dockery

    Great point! God certainly places a lot of trust in His church—maybe we should try doing the same thing.

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