As I write this, I’m sitting in my office having just returned from a lunch meeting with a pastor friend from another denomination. As we talked about how things were going with each other on a personal level, the conversation quickly transitioned into how our churches were doing. I shared a bit of what was going on with FBC (which was short and sweet for fear of coming across as bragging), and then he shared. As he began to unfold the things that were going on with his church, I sensed that there was a bit of frustration in his tone, so I enquired as to why. He responded with; things just aren’t going as well as I would like them to. I again asked; why? He replied back with; well, we’re having problems with our leaders, our worship, and I’m just tired. I sort of wish we were more like Pearl City; things are going well for you out there, aren’t they? Before I responded to this, I paused for a moment. Not for dramatic purposes, but more so in search for the appropriate response to such a loaded question.
As I came back with intentional words that I had hoped would be encouraging, I replied with; I wish I could say that we have a perfect church, but we don’t. Now that’s not a bad thing, in fact I am very appreciative of that (hoping that he would not feel so discouraged). He then asked; why would you be thankful for such a thing? Again with the dramatic pause, not for dramatic purposes mind you, but rather to process that question and to return with a response that would not prompt any other questions. And before I could respond, again the “why” question was asked, perhaps because of a prolonged pause, but I returned this time with a response. I said; I will respond to this in the hopes of trying not to sound rather holier than thou, but to be as straight forward and honest as I can be. The
reason why I am so thankful is that because at any given time I am perhaps the most flawed and sinful person in our church, an individual who understands the true meaning of the word
– oops (for those of you who don’t know the meaning, it means; to express surprise or distress or to say in a mild way that you are sorry about having done or said something wrong), now because I know the true meaning of the word, I wouldn’t last a single day in a perfect church. So I am first and foremost thankful for that, but I am also thankful that I’m part of an imperfect church that understands the importance of trusting and leaning on a perfect God. I went on to say (before he could interrupt, because I also felt I was on a roll); it’s sort of like when I know that I’m somewhat proficient at something, I’m less likely to seek help and advice in that area, but when I am aware of the deficiencies I possess, I’m exponentially way more open to help, teaching, advice, etc… The same is true with the church, when we realize our imperfections, not that we strive for imperfections, but when we realize our imperfections, we’re not just open to the love of a perfect God, we desire it, and we actively seek it out.
As our conversation continued, we headed in multiple conversational paths that ended with prayer. In our prayer, it was filled with a sense of thanksgiving that God would bless the two of us with imperfect churches. Churches that were privileged with the opportunity of worshiping a perfect God.
It is for this reason that I am so very thankful. Like I often say from the pulpit, it may not appear like it from the outside, but on the inside there’s a multitude of excitement in there. There’s a thanksgiving party going down on the inside!