We came here looking for the perfect. Admit it, we all are. We’ll give lip service to say we aren’t, but our actions show otherwise. We keep thinking we’ll find it. It. “The perfect.” Now before you pick up stones to throw I need to confess I’m the chief offender...most all of us preachers are. That’s why we move - it is either “us” or “them” and if we really believed it was us wouldn’t we get some help - we are either running from or too. I must admit at times I’ve run from - from my own weaknesses, my own discontent, my own unwillingness to work hard to forgive, or fix, my own malaise and boredom. But more often I’m running to - to that next place and when I get there for a while I’m so focused on the “pretty” (building, program, pay, reputation) of it that I forget that is all a facade of the reality that is. Yes, we come for the perfect - the perfect eldership, the perfect membership, the perfect fellowship. Or for you it may be the perfect preacher, the perfect program, or the perfect p______ (you fill in the blank where with something else that begins with p).
May I pull back the curtain and let you look inside: That preacher - he’s not perfect. He’s deeply flawed with a disease called “humanitis.” He harbors some evil thoughts, he has some bad habits, he has some pet hobbies and some areas where he’s just wrong. He’s not the best preacher ever - there were better before him and there’ll be better after. And that preacher across town or that you heard in that seminar or lectureship last week that you coveted for your church (yeah, admit it, there’s that guy out there that you think that if the church where you are could just get him you’d grow bunches) - he’s just as much human.
And preachers, before you “amen” me to throatily (it’s a word). Let me remind you. That church that is on your list (you know the one you hope will call you but never does), they are just as imperfect as the ragamuffin group you throw words “at” every week now. Or you may still be in that wondrous “honeymoon” stage - it’s not going to last. If they were that perfect you’d be without a job...right?
Yes, reality sets in - and we start by noticing it. Like noticing the wear on our leather sofa or the lose button on a shirt, or a pull on a nice sweater. Then we comment on it (if we’d just learn to shut up and move on). Then we find others who are sort of feeling the same way and we focus on it. The sofa’s still super but every time we look at it all we can see is that spot, that wear. We try to clean it. We try to cover it. We try to move forward. But “it” is still there. And each time we look at it, it gets bigger. The pulls become a hole now. The perfect is gone. The eldership made a decision, and now it seems a string of them. That person with whom you disagreed - you begin to wonder if they even worship the same God! And eventually you leave. You leave spiritually long before you leave physically. And for some of us we leave looking again, some just leave the Lord, or at least the Lord’s people.
Maybe that’s why the hurt of realization stings so deeply. After the second or third time - we realize - it’s just going to be this way.
And eventually you find it again: The Perfect, at least you think you have...but I’m telling you, as an experienced leaver, it won’t last!
But if you’ll come in close I will tell you a secret. THE PERFECT is out there. Actually a much greater secret. You don’t have to move to find it. You just have to adjust your vision.
And you want to see it in “your” church, I can’t say it better than Helen Lemmel: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” Want more peace, more contentment - it's not a throwing up of your hands in exasperation but a realization that you won't find it here and you'll only find it in Him!
And those moments when we’re good - it is only the Perfect shining through us (Philippians 3:8-10), reflecting His glory (2Co 4:6), His love (1Co 13:10).
“I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection...” Philippians 3:8-10.