Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thankful for an Imperfect Church

...just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless (Eph 5:25-27).

It has been one month since we left mercy ministry in a para-church organization to be a minister of mercy in a local church. Any regrets? None.

We are grateful beyond measure to pastor a local church. Not because she is perfect. There are areas of weakness, immaturity, and sin that are assuredly beyond the purview of the leadership. Nor because we expect her to ever arrive at perfection on this side of the Lord's return. Certainly our exegetical skill, theological depth, and pastoral wisdom are massively insufficient to lead this church anywhere near a destination resembling perfection. This church is not perfect, but she is beautiful because she is beloved by Christ.

A holy temple of God (1 Cor 3:16-17), purchased by His blood (Acts 20:28), the Lord Jesus has cleansed her that she might be presented to Him as a glorious and holy bride. And it is this reality that infuses pastoral labor with joy. Iain Murray noted the same of the Reformers and Puritans who pursued the reformation of the Bride of Christ:
They could say with Robert Rollock: 'Whilst I live I never expect to see a perfect Reformation in the Church.' Their vision for the Church was one which stretched beyond the boundaries of time and earth; by faith they saw her in her future beauty as the faultless bride of Jesus Christ. Yet this view, far from making them complacent about existing conditions, rather gave them the passion and determination to see that God's people upon earth acted as consistently as it was possible for redeemed sinners to act in relationship to the claims of the Saviour who had purchased the Church by His blood.

-- Iain Murray, The Reformation of the Church, p. 9
Lacking in passion for an imperfect local church? Consider her future glory. Consider that Christ has redeemed His bride. She is not what she should be, but she will be what He has made her. Passion for the present is derived from our assured hope for the future.

Semper Reformada