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A Healthy Church Should be Messy

June 18, 2010

The Buzzard Blog shared some excellent comments about church being messy. Sometimes I think we are surprised when people struggle with sin. These words are by Toby Kurth, pastor of Christ Church in San Francisco.

We are about a year into our church plant and have become increasingly convinced that a healthy church should be messy. If we really believe what the Bible teaches us about ourselves and others, how can it be any other way? Church is not just a meeting or an event; church is real people. Real people that have been saved by Christ and that are being transformed into his image. We all know that we have sin and struggles, but so many of us have gotten really good at hiding it.

The reality is that life comes with mess, mess that is produced by the work that God is doing in our lives. Work that can be painful and hard, but it is good. I think we are more or less resolved to accept that mess comes with our physical life, but what about spiritual life? Are you as quick to accept that? Do you believe that spiritual life is supposed to be messy?

God wants us to embrace the mess and work that comes with spiritual life because He wants to do real work in our lives. God calls us to acknowledge the mess of our own lives and the lives of those around us. He meets us in the mess. We grow in the mess. Christ redeems the mess.

We all face the temptation to present ourselves better than we are, to deny our sin and failure. We are often driven more by what people might think of us than reality. We slant stories to make ourselves look better. We hide our weaknesses from our friends and spend a lot of time reinforcing pretense. The more we do that, the more we drift from an active awareness of our dependence on Christ.

That is why we need the gospel. The gospel tells us the truth about ourselves and gives us the grace to embrace reality. The gospel tells us that left to ourselves we rebel against a good God and His ways, but that despite our rebellion God pursues us through Christ. The gospel is not a sales pitch. It is not a promise that everything will be neat and clean, that you can have your best life now. The gospel is grounded in reality. We all struggle to varying degrees and we are all desperately dependent upon the grace of Christ every moment of every day. God gives grace to us as we humble ourselves before Him and each other.

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