The great irony in the search for Christian community centered around the Kingdom of Christ is how it so often leaves the searcher isolated, a spiritual wanderer without a place to lay his head.
While many successfully integrate into fellowships and denominations which have God’s Kingdom as their stated focus, others find themselves spiritually homeless, unable to settle in any particular congregation or tradition.
In truth, every wanderer has their own story, and the reasons for why they continue to wander, bounce, or refuse to congregate at all are as many and varied as they are.
Some, through no fault of their own, live in areas where the array of available churches, much less Kingdom-focused churches, are less than abundant.
Others might otherwise congregate in non-Kingdom fellowships, but struggle with whether such a decision would amount to a compromise of faith.
Still others are bound by unrealistic expectations that give birth to shattered dreams and later die in a fit of cynicism, hurt, and despair.
Indeed, I hope that of all the reasons why you have not yet found “your” church family, you are not denying yourself such a privilege due to unrealistic expectations such as, for example, holding out for the perfect church.
And what is the perfect church?
- Naturally, such a congregation believes in the permanence of marriage, non-resistance, headcoverings, and the two-kingdoms doctrine.
- Furthermore, they are active in sharing their faith and in discipling one another.
- The members live close to each other and share large meals and laughs as often as they can.
- Such a church has not grown cold or struggled to lift itself out of its spiritual ruts (as happens with all other churches).
- All members participate in the full life of the Body and share the deepest parts of their lives with each other, absent fear of backstabbing or breach of confidence.
- Fresh vegetables from the church garden fill the table during times of fellowship, as singles and marrieds share stories over fresh-baked bread, while the coos of newborns and the sounds of playful youth fill the air.
Is this your idea of a perfect church? Maybe not. However, may I tell you a secret?
It is mine.
Yet, the greatest freedom in my life came when I laid down at the foot of the cross this dangerous dream which kept me from fully committing and enjoying the brothers and sisters God had put before me.
Denominations start, they grow, they plateau, and their members begin to crow for the “golden days” (which they did not even consider so golden when they were living them).
The same is true with all churches, no exceptions.
This is not a cause for despair, but a call to a determined realism.
“Realism” because the reality is that no church, tradition, or denomination has ever been everything its members wanted or needed, whether concerning biblical principles, our human psycho-social needs, or simple personal preferences.
And “determined” because we are convinced that recognizing such a fact will free us to enjoy the imperfect, struggling, frustrating, but altogether beautiful, hope-filled, and redeemed communities of Christ that surround us, while acknowledging our ultimate hunger and thirst is not filled by even the best of Christ’s churches, but in Christ.