What if I told you I was divorcing Beth because she burned dinner or shrunk my shirt or failed to properly greet me after work one day, explaining that I married her with the understanding that these things were unacceptable. You’d tell me I was being stupid, that my expectations were based in a silly fantasy that has no business regulating my decisions.

Similar fantasies corrupt our attitude toward the church.

Listen, I’m as critical of the church as anyone. I’m no half-baked Lutheran who thinks Christians never really become less sinful. I believe the church is God’s appointed means of displaying what life looks like when God is rightly honored as King. I believe Romans 7 describes the struggle people experience before they meet Jesus, not after. I believe we can know freedom from sin so that we actually desire and do good. I hold the church to high ideals because I believe God’s Spirit indwells us and constantly renews us into Christ’s image.

But if the church ever finds itself full of mature and radically devoted disciples, the church has failed. The church exists in a state of compromise because the church welcomes people at all levels of immaturity and ungodliness. If all the hypocrites go home, no one would be left to serve coffee or teach kids or lead worship or preach.

To paraphrase Bonhoeffer, if you love your idea of the church more than the actual people who make it up, the problem is you.

. . .

NOTE: In light of my 30th birthday and in honor of the guys who have all the fun, I’ll be offering thirty reflections in thirty days starting December 19th. Today’s post is #9 (see the so-far list here). The only rule is that I have 250 words to make my point. After that just stop reading. Thanks for making my blog part of your internet experience.