It's easy to find a church--a community of believers who gather once a week to worship God, connect with one another, and work together to further His kingdom. There are lots of buildings that house communities like this and every Sunday, we are in one of them. But often, I come away unsatisfied, like I have missed something important. We have sung, we have prayed, we have listened to a good lesson, we have hugged and shook hands with friends, but something is missing and now I think I'm beginning to understand what it is.
I expect something else from God's church, something important. I expect the church, more than anything else, to be holy. Holy--as in completely dedicated to God. I expect the people who gather in that building to cling unreservedly to Him. To worship Him, to kneel humbly before Him because we know corporately as well as singly who He is. He is God and we are not.
The church I yearn for does not put on a pretty face. The church I yearn for falls down in thanksgiving, not just raises its hands in praise. The church I yearn for does not just look for one another in their accustomed places. It looks for God. God first, second, and third--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Everything--everything--else comes after.
A feeling of togetherness comes after.
Personal development comes after.
Good sermons come after.
Jobs and committees come after.
Witnessing comes after.
Activities come after.
Ministries come after.
Good works come after.
I want holiness. I want from my church complete dedication to God's very person, all the parts of Him--incarnated Man and supernatural Spirit.
I am entirely convinced that the church is not primarily the place to work with and learn from and celebrate with one another, but to learn together to be like God. He has commanded us to perfection in Him and given us the church as the place where we strive to attain that together. Our church, like the tabernacle of Israel, needs to be a Holy of Holies, a place we must approach on our knees in reverent fear, not a place where we only sing for joy, clap, and wave our hands. The church I yearn for concentrates not primarily on our friendship with God, but on what still separates us--not on what we have, or on what God as done, but on what He has asked us to be.
I want a church that holds up God's seemingly-impossible standard of holiness and urges me forward toward it, reminding me to have courage and strain for what is still beyond my grasp. Don't tell me about your wonderful pastor or friendly congregation or uplifting programs or helpful ministries. Tell me that, together, you unswervingly desire and work to be more like God.
Be ye holy as I am holy.--Leviticus 20:7, 1Peter 1:16
Please, please give me a church who looks at her bridegroom with the same singlemindedness as a bride on her wedding day, all but blind to everything and everyone else, but promising the fruit of that devotion in everything else she does.
...prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.--Revelation 21:2