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Call it intuition, call it instinct, but there’s a nagging sense in me that says “church is messy.” To be clear, what I mean by that is simply “untidy,” not perfect, can be disorderly. Even as a young man I was always suspicious of things that looked too tidy, too perfect—too sanitized, too "Stepford Wives."
Think Corinth, then Ephesus and Sardis, and you know that church is not perfect. That’s the reason young people get turned off by church. Self-righteousness, which projects an unreal piety that covers up mistakes—or worse, pretends to not make any—is nothing more than hypocrisy. Like preachers who call out errors in others, but have secret lives.
Herein lies the importance of discipleship, of life exchange, of being real, of acknowledging that while we are sinners, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is capable of transforming us into saints. Discipleship that speaks of a journey of ever-increasing trust blooms into faith as we encounter Christ’s love each day.
Lives that know reality understand that while things can be messy for now, we’re progressively being transformed as the revelation of His love grows in us. Perfection is not achieved by our works and efforts, but in view of His mercy that causes us to offer our lives as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—that is our reasonable act of worship.
A people and a church, while imperfect, are walking in the joy of their God and that forms the basis of their strength. It’s joy that radiates because of His presence in their lives. Joy that knows one’s salvation is not religious, but real. Church, although “messy,” is full of joy.
As I watched the video of Discipleship 2013 and the some 7,000 small-group leaders, I wasn’t filled with the self-righteous pride that we have grown. I was filled with joy seeing the lives of people who have trusted the finished work of Jesus in their unfinished lives, while joyfully desiring to share it with others.
This weekend, as you go to church and see the messy reality, I pray that you will also realize that as we focus on God’s greatness, as we worship Him for His majesty, He will continually make us the people that reflect His love and glory.
Joey Bonifacio is the senior pastor of Victory Fort, one of 15 congregations that make up Victory Church in the metro Manila area of the Philippines. He is also the author of The LEGO Principle, which draws parallels between the famous toymaker and core discipleship elements. Visit Joey’s website at joeybonfacio.com, or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.
For the original article, visit joeybonifacio.com.
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