God’s people are imperfect people working with imperfect people to carry out God’s perfect plan.
All of us need to keep that understanding foremost in our minds.
There is a grave delusion that creeps into the Christian perspective at times. It is the perspective that, having been made right with God through faith in Jesus Christ, we become God’s gift of perfection to the church. This seedy side effect carries with it the self-perceived authority we are never wrong and no one else is ever right.
The result is that self-righteous syndrome which becomes problematic within the ranks because it goes beyond the clear principles of Scripture. Clergy as well as congregation are affected.
Thus, needless controversies brew, simmer, and then boil when church people get at odds with one another over some of the most inane matters. Church meetings are called where egos get bruised, voices become raised, and baseless accusations and excuses are brandished like so much emotional pistol flashing.
One church I know had a humdinger of a blow up over the issue of changing morning worship to an earlier time so they would have a better opportunity of beating the Sunday lunch crowd to the local restaurant. Division in that church persisted for a long time over the issue. It also became a stumbling block to effective ministry in the community.
It ever remains amazing that God has such a perfect plan but continues to employ imperfect people to work it.
Our individual humanity will remain in a state of imperfection for as long as we live. Oh, most certainly, we can and should strive toward the holy standards of God. Spiritual improvement should be the goal each day our lives.
But, at any given moment, our base nature, tainted with sin, can raise its ugly head, and, in the process, become a despicable reflection on the name of Christ to the minds of the community at large.
Listen, understanding and admitting how imperfect I am helps keeps me in proper perspective. And, with all due respect, you are imperfect, too. Our mutual imperfection is a truth you and I should always keep before us.
God understands that right well. That is one reason why the Word of God has so many point-specific instructions about how we should deal with and cope with each other.
For example, the Scripture expects that, knowing our imperfect humanity, we should “forebear” one another. Forebear literally means “to give up your threatenings.”
Evidently, in the church at Philippi were two ladies, Euodias and Syntyche, who were at heated odds with one another. When Christians get at odds with each other to the point of broken fellowship, it is a clear sign of imperfect humanity having its affect.
Apostle Paul encouraged them “that they should be of the same mind in the Lord.” He called on them to give up their own agendas to embrace together the understanding that the cause of Christ is of greater concern than anything else.
Furthermore, the Scripture calls on us to be “longsuffering.” W. E. Vine says, “Longsuffering is that quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish. It is the opposite of anger, and is associated with mercy.”
Forgiveness is critical as well. “Forgive one another, if any man have a quarrel against any. Even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”
You see, when it comes to forbearing one another, when it comes to being longsuffering with one another, when it comes to forgiving one another—-the people of the church should be leading out and accurately demonstrating these Godly expectations. The people of the church tend to forget that the people of the world watch pretty close the people of the church, and all too often find occasion to ridicule the people of the church for their lack of spiritual unity.
If you will strive to be gracious toward me because I am an imperfect person, and if I will strive to be gracious toward you, then the more important matter of upholding the moral and spiritual principles of God will better serve God’s perfect plan.
The Rev. Ron Branch is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va.