Church Is A Messy Family


The church is bought by the blood of Christ Jesus (Acts 20:28). The church is God’s temple (1 Cor. 3:16). The church is the body of Christ, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Eph. 1:23). The church is the household of God (Eph. 2:19). The church is God's royal priesthood and His own possession (1 Peter 2:9).

Further, the brothers and sisters of the church are called “saints” (1 Cor. 1:2). Every person who is saved by God’s grace shares in the inheritance of the saints in light (Col. 1:12). In fact, the church is God’s eternal community, for all believers are fellow citizens of God’s everlasting kingdom (Eph. 2:19).

Having read the above description about what the church is, it may cause some to think that church is like heaven on earth. To be a part of the church is like living in the presence of God. The saints in the church live a glorious life, talking and walking like Christ.

But, is this a reality?

Problems in Church

The Cambridge Dictionary defines “utopia” as “a perfect society in which everyone works well with each other and is happy.”

Although the description about the church in the Holy Bible is true, the supposition that church is a utopia is untrue. We know this practically. It is true even Scripturally.

Do any of the following Scriptures affirm that church is utopian?
  • Romans 14:13, “Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”
  • 1 Corinthians 1:11, “For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.”
  • 2 Corinthians 12:20, “For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.”
  • Galatians 5:26, “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” 
  • Philippians 4:2, “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.”
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:11, “For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.”
  • James 4:1, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?”
What do the above Scriptures testify? They affirm that church is a messy family. It is not yet perfect. It is beautiful as well as ugly.

Someone rightly observed, “No matter how hard we try to keep church governance Scripturally grounded, you cannot escape the fact that the church is one messy family.”

True, the church is much like our nuclear family—complicated and messy. Moreover, it is messier because the church has more people with different personalities, emotional baggage, differing opinions, improper attitudes, immature behaviors, and sinful weaknesses.

So, with this messy condition, how are we going to live together, walk together, and serve together in our spiritual journey? Is it better to live as an individual Christian than as a community?

Prescription to Church

We do not discard our physical body because of some disease. Just like any good doctor who writes a prescription to treat the disease, so also the Word of God prescribes how weak and immature brothers and sisters in the body of Christ should live together as God’s community.

I would like to quote the Scriptures, which are, in general, self-explanatory.
  • John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
  • Colossians 3:12-14, “Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
  • Ephesians 4:1-3, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
  • Ephesians 4:31-32, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
  • Galatians 6:1-2, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:14, “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
  • 1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”
  • Further reading: Matthew 18:15-20; Romans 12:9-21; Romans 15; 1 Corinthians 13; Galatians 5; Ephesians 5; Colossians 3; 1 Peter 5; 2 Peter 1:3-11; 1 John 3 and 4.
Most assuredly, we are a messy family, but we are not left helpless and hopeless. We have problems and conflicts, but we are still a family, the household of God. We have been given the power of the Holy Spirit and the encouragement of the Scripture to build each other up in the Lord.

Therefore, let us not give up on each other. It is in the company of the weak and imperfect people, which we all are, that we journey together towards spiritual maturity. We need each other to build one another up in our struggle with weaknesses and imperfections.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This message is focused on addressing interpersonal problems in the church. In the name of tolerance, this message must not be stretched further to doctrinal compromise. 

If the truth of the gospel of Christ Jesus and the fundamental doctrines of the historic Christian faith are despised, none should consider being a part of such churches. The false teachers and false teachings must be resisted. The Scripture cautions, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” (2 John 10) 

Recommended Reading: If You Bite and Devour One Another by Alexander Strauch

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C. Stephen David is a child of the Living God, a husband to Chaithanya, a father to two children, and an elder/shepherd of Ekklesia Evangelical Fellowship (www.eefchurch.org). He lives with his family in Hyderabad, India.

Enquiries:

mailekklesia@gmail.com

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