Christians aren’t perfect.
That’s not exactly breaking news (especially to Christians), but it is worth emphasizing:
We never have been.
To be a Christian is to believe in a perfect God who gives us a perfect set of rules for living, all while being intimately aware that we are anything but perfect.
We don’t always do the right thing.
We have weaknesses.
We make mistakes.
We know the kind of person we want to be—and we know, better than anyone else, how abysmally far we are from actually being that person. The apostle Paul wrote, “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (Romans 7:15).
Following God requires us to look in the mirror and come to terms with three things—who we are, who God wants us to be, and the distance between those two points.
It’s hard. Christianity is hard. There’s nothing easy about looking honestly at ourselves. There’s nothing easy about setting out to overcome our character flaws and develop the traits God wants to see in us—but it is important. It’s the reason we’re here: to take on the character of God and to join His family.
On our own, that’s an overwhelming, impossible task—but as we learned yesterday, the Spirit of God equips us to do the impossible. It’s a powerful tool God gives us to grapple with our own shortcomings and develop His perfect character. But it’s not the only tool at our disposal.
Long ago, wise King Solomon noted in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:
Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
When we join forces with those who believe what we believe and who are going where we’re going, we all benefit. We can dream bigger, work harder and climb higher than any of us ever could on our own.
And perhaps most importantly, we can grow.
In the Old Testament, Elijah the prophet found himself on the run from the wicked Queen Jezebel. He had exposed her pagan, Baal-worshipping priests as the frauds they were—and in return, she intended to kill him.
Understandably, Elijah was afraid. He hid himself in a cave on a mountain, where God spoke with him and asked, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:13).
Elijah explained: “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life” (verse 14).
It’s not always easy to be a follower of God—and it’s even harder to be the only follower of God. But Elijah was wrong. Yes, he had been zealous. Yes, the nation of Israel had forsaken God and turned to worshipping the false god known as Baal. But Elijah was far from the only God-fearing man left in Israel. God told him, “I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him” (verse 18).
What do you think Elijah must have felt when he heard those words—when he discovered he was not the very last of God’s servants, but was, in fact, one among thousands?
Relief? Peace of mind? Excitement? Whatever he felt, Elijah was not alone—and neither are you.
The Church is a community—a body composed of imperfect people striving for perfection. Their ultimate goal? To come to “the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). It’s also to “grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (verses 15-16).
By coming together as a community, every member of the Church has the opportunity (and privilege) of contributing to that growth. We all come to the table with our own weaknesses and shortcomings, true—but we each also bring our own unique strengths, talents and life experiences.
As Solomon noted all those years ago, we’re better off together. Together, we have a good reward for our labor—we have support when we stumble, warmth when we’re cold and strength when we’re weak. The Church helps us grow.
But maybe you’ve had a question in the back of your mind this whole time:
There are over 7 billion people in the world today. Seven billion. Out of all those billions, why does God want you, specifically, in His Church?
Good question. Tomorrow, we’ll set out to find the answer.