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A Picture Perfect Church


By Benjamin H. Liles

          When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a hill and sat down. His followers came to him, and he began to teach them, saying:

          “They are blessed who realize their spiritual poverty, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.          

       They are blessed who grieve, for God will comfort them.

         They are blessed who are humble, for the whole earth will be theirs.

          They are blessed who hunger and thirst after justice, for they will be satisfied.

          They are blessed who show mercy to others, for God will show mercy to them.

          They are blessed whose thoughts are pure, for they will see God.

          They are blessed who work for peace, for they will be called God’s children.

          They are blessed who are persecuted for doing good, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

          “You are blessed when people insult you and hurt you. They will lie and say all kinds of evil things about you because you follow me. Rejoice and be glad, because you have a great reward in heaven. People did the same evil things to the prophets who lived before you. 
                                                                                                                    ~ Matthew 5:1-12, Expanded
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          Nowhere in the previous verses does it say that the successful, or picture perfect church, has it made. No one who follows Christ has an easy path. For He says, "They who grieve are blessed; God comforts them...They who are persecuted for giving mercy are blessed; the kingdom of heaven is theirs" (paraphrased). 

          Actually, what Jesus qualifies as a "Picture Perfect" Church are those who grieve, those who are humble, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (justice), and so forth and so on. So how does this work out in every day life? Granted I have a difficulty in keeping myself under control with my anger; I also get depressed. Some times I'm in a great mood and feel victorious in life. But does it mean, when I have my good moments, that I am more successful when I'm not having a good moment? 

          Paul wrote, "But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me" (2 Corinthians 12:9, Berean Study). It seems Paul is not just confident in his ability, to a degree, but he'd rather Jesus Christ, the Messiah, receive credit for the power and glory that is shown in Paul's life. He did after all just say, "so that the power of Christ may rest on me."

          Jesus' actual Church has power and strength, not just because of the Holy Spirit. He works in and through us according to the faith we have. But He also works because we choose to remain, to abide, in Him. As Jesus said, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples" (John 15:4, 7-8, New American Standard). 

          Truly, Paul went further on the subject about being a healthy and vibrant Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit: "Carry one another's burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2, Holman Christian Standard). So, the idea of this perfect, successful Church is one in which His body isn't just unified, but we pour out our hearts to one another. We pray for one another. We build one another up and sing songs of praise together. 

          Lastly, Jesus said: "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18, English Standard). Peter's name is actually Cephas, which means "rock." So, it makes sense that Peter is the bedrock on which the Church was built. It has stood for more than nineteen centuries since the apostles went  to sleep in the Lord. And so far, no weapon formed has stood against the power of God at all (see Isaiah 54:17).

          Father, I come to You today to let you know how weak I feel. I struggle in my flesh against all kinds of evil, first in terms of feeling and being depressed to feeling hopeless as well as angry. I need Your help in overcoming these things. They are not of You and they need to go in Your Son, Jesus', holy and precious name. I denounce all things that keep me from pressing onward in You by faith. I ask that You always be my guide, my sure footing so I can keep on Your paths of righteousness. You are my rock; my refuge; my strength. My hope is in You only and in no other. I praise You for what You do in my life, what You do in other's lives, and what You will continue to do to make Your name great. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.