No Perfect Churches

No Perfect Churches

Words of Faith 4-15-19

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA) - Melbourne, FL      

2820 Business Center Blvd.

Melbourne, Florida 32940

(321)-259-7200

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

SUBSCRIPTIONS - To receive the Words of Faith devotion five days a week, send an E-mail message addressed to join-words-of-faith@hub.xc.org. To stop receiving Words of Faith, send an E-mail message addressed to unsubscribe-words-of-faith@hub.xc.org.  Or you can call the church office at 321-259-7200 x1.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -     

The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, and our website, and our church app excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.  

<>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <><

 

2 Thessalonians 1

    Paul, Silas and Timothy,

    To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

    [2] Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    [3] We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. [4] Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.

 

      There are no perfect churches.  Within just a few months of Paul's first writing, messengers brought back information to Paul from Thessalonica.  Paul was still in Corinth working to establish the church there when he heard that there were some problems in the church at Thessalonica. 

     Some of the news was good: the Thessalonians were continuing to grow and to remain faithful to Christ in spite of persecution. But some news was bad. False teaching concerning the Day of the Lord had entered the church and was causing confusion and leading some of the Christians to quit their jobs in expectation of the Lord's return.

     Paul still could not visit the believers in Thessalonica because authorities there would seize the property of church members if he did.  A letter was the next best thing. In this second letter, Paul commended the believers for their growth but also corrected their doctrinal error about the Day of the Lord and warned of its consequences.

     Paul began with words of thanksgiving for the church at Thessalonica.  Even with the issues that they were facing, Paul saw the great blessing of what the Lord was doing there, and the importance of giving thanks for the faithful response of these people who were like children to him. Paul thanked God for their faith which was growing and for their love for one another which was increasing. He thanked God that they were persevering even during times of persecution. 

      Of course, there were other churches which Paul had planted that were "better" in some sense.  Luke wrote in his account— "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true" (Acts 17:11).  Paul must have observed the same thing, but he did not communicate in any way that he was disappointed with the church at Thessalonica.  Instead, he commended them for their strengths and gently corrected the errors.

      There is a powerful truth in Paul's character and method.

      We often want a local church to be perfect immediately.  Folks will sometimes point out "a better church" down the road or in another city... and there always seems to be one.  It is easy to see the shortcomings and pitfalls in the church and much harder to roll up shirt sleeves and work on those problems.

      The reality is that this thing we call "church," the gathering of God's called out people, takes time and will never be perfect.  There are no perfect churches.  Not in the first century and not in the twenty-first. God only has imperfect people to work with.  

     This does not mean we should not be working on many things in the local church. Most healthy churches are always improving on the basics, growing in faith, and growing in love for one another as they persevere together.  That was what the Thessalonians were doing.

      In reality, the Bereans "down the road" had problems too, just different ones.  They may have been of "more noble character" because of their careful study, but there were undoubtedly some other concerns.  

        We don't know what the shortcomings among the Bereans were.  Perhaps they did not have the same heart for mission and outreach that the Thessalonians did.  They may not have participated in the offering for the poor in Jerusalem the way that the Philippians did. They may not have supported Paul with offerings as the church at Antioch did. They may not have engaged local authorities concerning idolatry as firmly as they should have.  We don't know.  We can only be assured that the church at Berea was not perfect, nor was the church at Corinth or Thessalonica or Philippi. There are no perfect churches.

       So what do we do with this in the twenty-first century?  Paul gave thanks for the imperfect church that he had planted.  We can give thanks.  We can give thanks for our local church.  It is not perfect.  There probably are some problems that need to be worked on.  There probably are some difficult people that God has brought there. (Maybe I am one of them!) The church down the road may look great, even perfect, but it is not. 

      Give thanks for the strengths you see in your church.  Give thanks for your leaders and your pastor.  Give thanks for the ministries your church is good at.  As you do, perhaps the Lord will lead you to get involved in ways that will help your church be more of what God intends for it to be.  Perhaps God will guide you to support your church more generously in finances and service.  Give thanks that we are growing in faith and in love for one another. 

 

     Father God, I give thanks for my church.  I thank You for every person in it, even the people that I don't like very much.  Teach me how to grow in faith and in love for others.  Show me how to trust You when things are not the way that I want them to be.  Use every situation to help me grow in faith and in love for others.  Show me where You want me to pitch in to make Your church all that You dream for it to be.  In Jesus' name.