Read 2 Corinthians 12:19-21
19 Perhaps you think we’re saying these things just to defend ourselves. No, we tell you this as Christ’s servants, and with God as our witness. Everything we do, dear friends, is to strengthen you. 20 For I am afraid that when I come I won’t like what I find, and you won’t like my response. I am afraid that I will find quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorderly behavior.21 Yes, I am afraid that when I come again, God will humble me in your presence. And I will be grieved because many of you have not given up your old sins. You have not repented of your impurity, sexual immorality, and eagerness for lustful pleasure. (NLT)
A number of churches hold ‘messy church’ gatherings where the emphasis is on informality and any thought of neatly ordered liturgy and quietness is out of the question. It is a way of helping families in particular enjoy Christian fellowship.
But all churches are ‘messy’. Paul certainly found the Corinthian church to be a mess. You might think that having a great apostle guiding the church it would stay on track. Don’t believe it. No matter how good a church leader is, the church is messy because it comprises imperfect individuals led by an inevitably flawed leader.
This need not bring us to despair. Churches are much like families. When we visit a family at home we expect to encounter a bit of mess. Family living is not always tidy, and intense efforts to make it tidy may upset family relationships. Families accept the fallibility of family members. Jesus calls broken people to repentance and repentance is a process not an event.
So just as a family need not apologise for a messy household, we ought not to apologise for messy churches. Though as Corinth reminds us, some messiness goes beyond reasonable limits just as some family homes might well do with a bit of tidying up.
In the end, our churches are more like living rooms than show rooms.
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