When a congregation is established according to the divine pattern of the New Testament, it is composed of elements of perfection and imperfection. Since it is a divine institution, it deserves the respect and admiration of all. Everything that such a church is and does, as authorized by God, is divine. God’s part is perfect. He has designed a perfect plan of salvation, and a perfect system of worship (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Bible is its only guide; it is the “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25). “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.’ (Psalms 19:7). The church has a perfect Savior who holds before us His perfect life for our goal, saying, “Follow me.” (Matthew 16:24).
But here is the paradox. Man is not perfect, nor does he perfectly follow the Lord. The human elements in the church is as imperfect as its members. The divine aspect of the church maintains its perfection because of the provisions of grace which God had extended in it to deal with man’s imperfections. The church would have been an imperfect institution if it had been designed only for perfect people. It would have no members at all, “For there is not a just man upon the earth, that does good, and sins not.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20).
Its perfection is retained by the way it deals with our imperfections. It does not wink at sin but believes the grace of God is perfect in dealing with them. It must distinguish between the penitent and rebellious, between the humble and weak, and willful reprobate. God now “commands all men everywhere to repent.” (Acts 17:30). The church upholds the gospel (good news) that Christ promises pardon for all imperfect beings who, in godly sorrow for their sins, penitently seek mercy and forgiveness. His invitation is to imperfect men, “Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:7). When one repents and is baptized, Jesus forgives his sins and adds him to His church (Acts 2:38, 47).
Christ “loved the church, and he gave himself for it: that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” (Ephesians 5:25, 26).
The church offers strength to help us in our weaknesses, courage when we are faint-hearted, comfort us what we are sad, and, ”joy unspeakable and full of glory” along the way. Its call is too “whosoever will” to come and be saved. It’s God ordained teachings and services restore lost men back to God and back to the innocence that characterized them before they departed from him. Thanks be to God for his perfect church and its benefits to imperfect men.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
You have what’s needed to do the job God wants you to do. Your talents may be limited. But you have what’s needed to do the job God wants you to do. Your assignment may not be very flashy. But you have what’s needed to do the job God wants you to do.
God gave Moses a rod, David a sling, Samson the jawbone of a donkey, Shamgar an ox goad, Esther beauty and courage, Dorcas a needle, and Apollos an eloquent tongue. No two of them had the same assignment. But each had what was needed to do the job God had for him or her. And by faithful use of that gift each wrote a significant chapter.
God has given you a gift. That puts you under heavy obligation. God’s gifts must not be squandered. They must be faithfully used – for the purpose for which He has given them. One day he will call for an accounting of your stewardship.
We have all that’s needed to preach the gospel to the world. It has been distributed to various parts of the body. Getting that body to function as a unit is the rub. We find ourselves walking with crutches because of a lame leg; tapping cautiously with a cane because the eyes have failed; bedridden because of a weak heart. Our evaluation of faithfulness often begins and ends with church attendance. That’s about as sensible as judging a worker’s worth by how often he shows up at mealtime.
God doesn’t ask for more that you can deliver. He doesn’t require you to do something you can’t do. You can’t preach? That’s okay. You can’t teach a class? That’s okay. You can’t give thousands of dollars? That’s okay.
What can you do? That’s want He wants you to do. Are you doing it?
Joe R. Barnett