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The Perfect Church

I used to think the perfect church would be one where everyone held similar views on faith and doctrine; where families held similar values and sent their children to the same schools; where cultural issues were discussed and agreed upon, where everyone—through baptism and some kind of magical transformation became one in thought and behavior. I believed the perfect church was made up of people who voted for the same kind of government and most likely belonged to the same political party. Only then could members truly love one another and be the shining light that God wanted them to be! If everyone in the church was like-minded, think what a witness we could be!

It finally dawned on me that such a church would be anything but perfect, and that actually the greatest demonstration of grace is not when people who are like-minded come together to fellowship and share their lives, but when those who are NOT like-minded do so! The miracle is that they willingly do so in spite of their differences.
Jesus said it best:

“If you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?” (Matthew 5:46, 47, NKJV).

In other words, people who are like-minded can easily love each other because—it’s like loving yourself! But the greatest demonstration of love is when people, who under normal circumstances would never associate with each other, come together to celebrate God! That gets everyone’s attention and causes them to ask, “What’s going on?”

This is why John said, “This is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another…” (I John 3:11, NKJV).

We live in an increasingly divided world where political parties refuse to dialogue and govern for the common good; where cultural issues are used as weapons to inspire conflict and confrontation; where religion is mocked for its inability to effect change; where war is touted as the best way to resolve differences and prevent violence, and where many churches simply reflect the same divisions and hatred within their own ranks seen in the world at large. Is it any wonder that people don’t believe in God? They haven’t seen him manifested among those who profess his name.

But the world will take note if people from many walks of life and political stripes come together to demonstrate true compassion and grace, in spite of their differences; a church that actually lives by the golden rule in the face of mistreatment and criticism; a church that is made up of people who have a shared understanding of God’s character, yet who are imperfect and flawed in many ways—yet who believe in the power of the gospel and are committed to living it out in their own lives. That would be the perfect church.

Rich DuBose writes from Northern California

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About Rich DuBose

Rich DuBose

is director of Church Support Services for the Pacific Union Conference.

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