By Samuel Lam
This past Sunday, Pastor Albert started his sermon about churches in general and how some churches aim to be perfect. He spoke that how churches try so hard to put up an image of themselves as a church that was flawless. The pastor has a perfect sermon, the worship team is flawless, the building is massive and packed, the congregation doesn’t go through struggles in life. Everything we see at the church was supposed to be perfect.
However, Albert warned us that such expectations are foolish because perfection like that cannot be achieved. In fact, it doesn’t exist because we live in a world of imperfections. People make mistakes, struggle, go through numerous things that take away what we call “perfection.”
And in a way, the message was a great reminder for me because it brought me back to my personal journey to find the perfect church. But it’s not perfection by our standards set by society. It’s perfection in God’s eyes.
Perfection can be achieved. In fact, perfection already exists in our church. But we don’t realize it.
WHAT IS BEING PERFECT?
The word “perfect” takes on a lot of meanings to different people. But let’s take a look at its proper definition.
Having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.
Two years ago before I moved to Southern California for my job, I was part of a perfect church. This wasn’t the church that had no flaws, no issues, no nothing. In fact, this church was just the opposite. We were filled with many ragtag, misfits. We all were in different stages of our lives. We didn’t even have a permanent building to call home on Sunday. We didn’t even meet every Sunday. We gathered during the week at each other’s house, talked about our lives, read the word and loved each other.
During one of our Bible studies, we came across this verse from Matthew 5:43-48 and what it meant to be perfect in God’s eyes.
43 You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
We talked about what “perfect” meant in the Bible. And to help further the discussion, we looked at this clip and it explained it perfectly.
(Background. Permian football is in the championship game, having won every game up to that point and are on a quest for a perfect season. At halftime against a tough opponent, their coach tells them what it meant to be perfect in their eyes.)
That’s what perfection is. My church group I was in, we did that for one another. Our hearts were full for one another.
That’s what God’s definition of perfect is. As Albert mentioned, there is no perfect church where nobody is flawed. However, the perfect church is the one where we care for one another, sacrifice ourselves. Perfection is not the standard that we set up for ourselves. It’s the standard God put before us.
God calls us to be like Him. And what are the characteristics of God? God loves. God forgives. God sacrifices. God is sincere. God never quits. If we can do that, then we are perfect. Not perfect in society’s eyes, but perfect in God’s eyes.
If we revisit the definition of perfect: “Having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be”, I think we’ve achieved it.
FINDING THE PERFECT CHURCH ONCE AGAIN
The message Albert spoke on talked about what his vision for the church was for Trinity. It was the same thing he told me when I first met him last year. I had that desire to find a perfect church. It was tough because my work schedule was hectic and I didn’t know anybody in the area. And I know I didn’t want to end up back at a church that was lifeless like the one Mr. Bean was in.
Prior to visiting Trinity, I was recommended this book by my friend who told me to find a church that fit what I needed — and a church that was right for the community. The book is called “What is a Healthy Church?“. During my search for a church, I took what that book told me about what qualities I should find in one.
I came across a chapter that took what I learned about being perfect and tied into my journey. It simply asked the question of how we should describe a healthy church. This is what it said.
A healthy church is not a church that’s perfect and without sin. It has not figured everything out. Rather, it’s a church that continually strives to take God’s side in the battle against the ungodly desires and deceits of the world, our flesh, and the devil. It’s a church that continually seeks to conform itself to God’s Word.
After all these years growing up in a church, I had never known that was what a healthy, perfect church was supposed to be. It wasn’t until I was in San Jose did I see that. And when I moved to Southern California, that was what I wanted to find again.
Albert told me that he wanted to see the church grow into one where we were fruitful in ways unimaginable. He desired to see the church so full of faith that the unimaginable was attainable.
The thing that stood out to me was that he wanted to see the church become perfect so the unchurched would want to come. In that sense, the care, love and support for one another through the ups and downs of life became our identity. That was what his vision for the perfect church would be for Trinity. That was what I wanted.
When I came to Trinity for the first time as I was church hopping, I was cared for. Two people gave me their contact info, offered to show me around town so I could get acclimated. I saw that the church didn’t try to put up their mask and impress me. I saw flaws in people. I saw a little disorganization. I saw a church filled with so many different people. It reminded me of my old church in San Jose. It was perfect.
STOP RUNNING — YOU’VE REACHED YOUR DESTINATION
There was a major struggle for me finding a church when I moved here. A lot of it was because I was trying so hard not to be judgmental. I’ve seen churches try to be perfect (with their flawless presentation) but actually be perfect. Because of that, my first two months of church hopping was so tough. And there was doubt that was overwhelming.
There was was a fear that I could never find that perfect church again. There was this fear of me running, searching and coming up empty. Was my standard too high? I know I wanted perfection, but was I asking for too much?
The book I was reading on a healthy church was actually the answered prayer from God. While reading it under a sunny sky one morning, God simply told me to stop searching. God told me to stop running with the fear of finding a perfect church. Instead, he told me to go visit churches, and just experience Him. Everything else would fall into place and I will know that I have found MY perfect church.
So I stopped being judgmental. I stopped trying to nitpick. Instead, I allowed God to show Himself to me and then I would know what perfection was. I ended up finding two churches that really stood out to me. But it was at Trinity, that I saw God’s vision of perfection clearly. I saw people who cared for me. I saw a pastor that had the same vision as I did. And the church reminded me of my old ragtag, misfits back in San Jose. (Plus the church was really close to where I live, so that helped too.)
For the first time, I was finally able to breathe. I had found my perfect church. The church was perfect because the people there were imperfect. There was no mask, there was no front. It was what I needed.
I pray that as you journey through life with God that you can find a perfect church. I am not saying that Trinity is the church for everyone — but it was the perfect one for me. If you’re still searching, you’ll find the right church for you.
Your perfect church is the one where you can see God, experience Him with people who are genuine and your heart continues to be full and overflowing for love of one another. There’s no need to worry about being flawless every Sunday — because that doesn’t matter when the church is perfect.
Samuel Lam is a Bay Area native living in Southern California working in sports media. He blogs on many topics, including sports, music, movies, travel and especially faith. Sam also runs his own personal sports blog on his free time.
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