In Search of the Perfect Church
Abba, Daddy, hear my plea.
Let there be more of Jesus and less of me.
Jesus, Savior, You have give us a new start.
We are Your Church Body – chosen, holy, set apart.
Dear Holy Spirit, strengthen us one and all,
To trust and obey and follow Your call,
To love and serve You,
And our brothers and sisters too.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we pray to You.
Let our love for each other and neighbors as well,
Be what we are known for as Your Story we tell.
We are Your Church Lord, the body of Christ.
Though we are all different You paid with One Price.
And we are one in the Spirit, saved by Your grace.
Help us all Dear Daddy, to finish the race.
As you have just read, the “In Search of a Perfect Church” poem (my apologies to real poets, like my friend Carol P.) has been changed. For one thing, it is just a little bit longer. But, more importantly, it is no longer a fairy tale (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) style prayer. In the revised version of “In Search of a Perfect Church,” the prayer is all about God and finding a church that is all about worshiping and serving Him, serving our brothers and sisters in Christ, and reaching out to our neighbors near and far with the love of God. One of the goals of every Christian is to find a church (a fellowship of followers of Christ) where they can grow in Christ-likeness and be able to use their spiritual gifts for the building up of this local body of Christ, serving its surrounding neighbors, as well as playing an active role in the worldwide Universal (means Catholic) Church through missions (financial giving and sending out missionaries) for the spread of the Gospel: The Good News of Christ. This is Christ’s desire for His Church.
“And I tell you that you are Peter [word for “small rock”], and on this Rock [“big rock”- Jesus] I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades [hell] will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18).
“My prayer is not for them [first disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe [us] in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one: I in them and You in ME. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me’” (John 17:20-23)
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20)
“So when they met together, they asked Him, ‘Lord, are You at this time going to restore the kingdom of Israel?’ He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. BUT you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’” (Acts 1:6-8).
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues [languages] as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:1-4: The Birth of the Christian Church).
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying [telling forth the truth], let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach, if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:6-8).
“For this reason I [Paul] kneel before the Father, from Whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen”(Ephesians 3:14-21).
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:2-6).
Along with the passages above, there are many more Scripture passages describing the Church that Christ built. The Church is Christ’s idea. It is not a place or a building. The Christian Church is the Family of God that is spread all over the world. As part of the Universal Church, we join all believers, by coming together in God’s House, as local church body; brothers and sisters in Christ, to worship our Father God “in Spirit and in Truth” (John 4:24b). As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are to “be devoted to one another in brotherly love [and] honor one another above [ourselves]” (Romans 12:10). We are to “serve the LORD with gladness” (Psalm 100:2) and “praise [Him] as long as [we] live, and in [His] Name [we] will lift up [our] hands” (Psalm 63:4). God’s Word tells us we have the power of the Holy Spirit to love each other as God in Christ loves us. Without God’s empowering Holy Spirit, we can do nothing, BUT with Him “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness” (II Peter 1:3) God the Father has adopted us to be His children, through Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:5) “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (I John 3:1a). After reading all these Scriptures, what an awesome honor and privilege it is to be part of Christ’s Church, representing His body on earth, until He comes again (Acts 1:9-11).
As a person with a disability, the idea that God has adopted me has a very special meaning. Whenever a couple is expecting a child or desire to adopt a baby, they often say, “We don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl, as long as s/he is healthy.” Whenever I used to hear these words, it was as though a knife was piercing straight through my heart. To those expecting a child, I wanted to say, “What are you going to do, throw the baby back like a fish if s/he‘s not healthy? Are you going to love him/her less if the baby has a disability?” But, of course, I never asked those questions. Deep down inside I knew what they were saying was not meant to mean anything that was negative or hurtful. But, it still hurt. With those who were waiting to adopt, it made me realize the very slim chance I would have been adopted, as a baby with cerebral palsy, compared to babies who were born “healthy.” God used one of Pastor #2’s sermons to stop the emotional bleeding.
In Part Two, I wrote about his sermon when he used an illustration of the time he took care of his little boy who was sick. He talked about how his little boy was throwing up all over the bathroom in the middle of the night and how he was holding him and comforting him. He said that his little boy was not a pretty sight, but that did not make him love his little boy any less. If anything, it made him love his little boy even more and he wanted to help him in all his distress. The Pastor said something like this, “How much more does our Heavenly Father love us when all the world sees is one big mess?” Those words were like a healing balm that soothed my wounded soul and healed the bleeding of my heart. And to learn that my Heavenly Father adopted me, “warts” and all, was so amazing, so awesome, so “immeasurably more than all [I could] ask or imagine“ (Ephesians 3:20)! Being adopted into God’s family and becoming a member of His local body, in a Christian church, is truly a gift that is too infinitely wonderful for us to wrap our heads around. We should be incredibly grateful for it and enraptured by what it all means, or at least all that is humanly possible to grasp hold of. Sadly, more often than not, we do not take church membership and being brothers and sisters in Christ and adopted into God’s family as seriously as we ought.
In part two of “In Search of a Perfect Church” I mentioned one good reason for leaving a church, and that is when God calls you to the mission field. Another good reason for leaving a church was in one of Pastor #2 and the Elders’ five-year-plans. During one of the five out of twenty-five years Pastor #2 was with us, the elders and he and the members had the goal of “planting” two churches in two different counties in the area. These churches would be comprised of people who were already living in those areas, who were members of our Christian church [I will refer to as CC]. In those five years, by God’s grace, these two churches were “planted” and many of our members left to become members of our two “daughter” churches to help them get established and grow. Both churches thrived and became independent of CC, but always dependent on God. Even though it was sad to see our brothers and sisters leave, we were filled with joy that there were two new Beacons of Light in our part of the state. This was a very good reason for church members to leave our church.
After twenty-five years of ministering with us (Pastor #2 had a saying: “CC had three Pastors [himself and two Assistant Pastors] and over three hundred ministers [the church members and regular attendees]” and seeing our goal of planting two daughter churches was accomplished, Pastor #2 felt that it was time to move on. As a congregation, we understood that Pastor #2 needed to move on to “tackle” new challenges and we also knew that we needed to move on to grow in new ways as well. But, it was still sad to say “Good-bye” and saying it twice again. As Yogi Berra once so eloquently stated, “It’s déjà vu all over again,” but different… Stay tuned for Part Four.
(If you are getting the idea that I am stalling, you are partly correct. Part Four will be very difficult to write, so please pray that my words will be glorifying to God and encouraging to the readers. The other two reasons are: 1. I’m trying not to make my posts too long, and 2. I believe the Holy Spirit gave me all those Scriptures to share about what it means to be a member of the body of Christ in a local church. The Scriptures are awe-inspiring for me. Just read them over and see how important and loved we are by God.
HAVE A HAPPY AND SAFE FOURTH OF JULY!