Love The One You’re With

almost-rose-tintedThis isn’t the post I began writing.

The post I began writing was based on a chat I had with a friend, who’s moving home and looking for a new church. We were talking about what she should look for. And that was my original post – a wish list for church.

It was quite a long list.  It had things like ‘real relationships’, ‘commitment to pastoral care’, ‘the priority of loving Jesus over skills or gifting’. I based a lot of it on my own church, (which rocks) and for which I’m very thankful.

But I deleted the post. Because, the perfect church doesn’t exist – any more than the perfect husband or the perfect family.  And sometimes, writing what you want, devalues what you’ve got.  Like in magazines, where you look at someone’s dream kitchen …and then your own starts to shrink.

I could write a list about the 20 characteristics of The Dream Family. But I don’t, because I’ve already got a family and that’s where I belong. My own family mightn’t tick any of those 20 boxes, but I love them and wouldn’t swap them for the Waltons.  Same goes for my husband. I’m already married – not to an ideal but to a flesh and blood person. And whilst ’10 Keys to a Perfect Marriage’ looks good on paper, it doesn’t work. Fact is, you can’t have a relationship with an ideal.  In fact, such ideals can kill real relationships.

Think about how it plays out in our own lives.  The internal monologues that allow us to run ourselves down. The comparisons with a ‘perfect me’. How many times have you beaten yourself up for falling short of your own ridiculous standards?  Too short, too pale, too intense, too fat. The self-help mantra: 10% inspiration, 90% condemnation and 100% law. A recipe for discontent.

When Jesus came to earth He went to the local Synagogue every Saturday – even when they tried to kill Him. Now that’s commitment. He didn’t hold out for the perfect church. Instead He committed Himself to a very imperfect church – a church that He died for.

If Jesus wasn’t too good for “local church” then we’re not either. Of course there are things that can be improved: and it’s good to talk these through.  But there’s a big difference between running something down and strengthening it from within. Our churches don’t need our wishlists, they need our willingness to plug in and serve.

Don’t fantasize about the perfect church – love the one you’re with.

6 thoughts on “Love The One You’re With

  1. Re: the ‘list’ thing and seeking a church that’s ‘perfect’ – to briefly answer a blog entry with a blog entry:
    There’s actually only one item that really should matter, in terms of church services – the Good News about Jesus Christ. The problem, as many of us know from long and painful experience, is this is rarely given the focus it should have, and it really is liberating when you attend somewhere where Christ is what counts. Go to a church that truly exalts God through the truth about the redeeming work of His Son.

  2. Thanks for this, Emma. Graduating this year and struggling with the idea of fitting back into church at home. So good to be reminded that Jesus didn’t die for a dream church, but for a broken one.

  3. Good post – Like your friend, I am also looking for a new church. Whilst it is commendable and recommended that people should be faithful to the church they have got, in my case, I saw myself having to look for another one not out noncommittal but because there were serious theological and doctrinal faults in it. It is with sadness I move on but I sincerely trust in the Lord to lead me to the right place, warts and all. Peace and blessings to you.

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