7 Characteristics of a Perfect Church, Part 4: Aiming for Perfection
Spiritually speaking, what would you like to be when you “grow up?” In other words, what would you like to achieve as you grow in your faith? Someone once said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it.”
Paul admonishes the Corinthians to aim for perfection. And then, he prays for the perfection of the church. Paul knew the Corinthian church was nowhere near perfect. And yet, if he didn’t believe God could or would answer his prayer, why did he bother to pray at all? (II Corinthians 13:9-11 & I Peter 1:15-16)
There is only one honest way for an imperfect church to aim for perfection. That is, for God’s people to allow the Holy Spirit to live the life of Christ in and through His church.
From childhood on, I don’t remember hearing anyone in the church teach about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life. Oh, I heard God’s Spirit referred to as the Holy Ghost. The idea of a mysterious apparition floating above my head didn’t help to further my education on the Holy Spirit.
Meanwhile, I continued to go to church and to pray. I talked to God when I was in trouble and when I wanted something. At times I would set out to live my life for Him. And yet, I had no idea how to appropriate God’s power in my life. Nor did I understand how to grow away from my sins and in to a life of obedience to God.
When I was 28 years old, I attended a ladies bible study. For the first time, I learned the “how tos” of the Spirit-filled life: *how to be sure you’re filled with God’s Spirit *how to walk in the Spirit *how to witness in the Spirit
If you know me at all, you know I’m a die-hard “how to” person. In church, we can be taught the deepest of theological truth. But if we don’t know how to apply that truth in our lives, we’re like a bunch of canoes without any paddles. Treading water with our hands. No power, no progress.
How then do we aim for perfection?
Adjust our focus on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Invite God’s Spirit to live His holy life in and through us on a moment-by-moment basis. This means we are to confess our sin the moment the H.S. convicts us. And then, we invite Him to cleanse, fill and empower us to be the people God wants us to be. (Ephesians 5:18; I John 1:9, I John 5:14&15; Acts 1:8)
Make the most of our time by obeying God’s will by faith. We learn God’s will through His Word, through prayer, through Godly counsel and through walking in the power of His Spirit. (Romans 12:1-2)
Why does God’s Word tell us to aim for perfection? because God’s greatest desire is for His people to draw upon His holiness and to exercise His power over sin. God sent His Son to die in order to pay the penalty for our imperfections/sins. Jesus’ resurrection set into motion God’s provision for us to have power over sin. How? When He returned to His heavenly Father, Jesus promised to send us a gift. To all who receive God’s provision for forgiveness of sin, Jesus sends His Spirit to give us the power over sin.
You’ve heard the saying, “The devil made me do it.” The truth is no one can make us sin. As believers, we have within us the power to choose not to sin. And that power is the Holy Spirit. Every time we’re tempted to sin, the Holy Spirit provides a way of escape for us. (I Corinthians 10:13) That is, if we’re paying attention.
Everyone who believes in Christ is born into the body of Christ, the church. And the head of the body is Jesus Christ. As a church, we can choose to be dysfunctional by minimizing the importance of the role of God’s Spirit. Or we can choose to give the Holy Spirit His rightful place in the body. That is, we can honor the Father as we embrace His Spirit to live the life of His Son in and through us.Therein lies the secret to growing a healthy church.
No, we won’t be perfect this side of Heaven. But we can fit together, each doing our own part. And together, we can aim for perfection. According to God’s will and by His grace, we can be a perfect church in progress. This, my friend, is why I believe the #1 most important characteristic of a perfect church is for God’s people to individually and collectively
understand and pursue the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Next time, we’ll reflect on another crucial dynamic of a perfect church. Meanwhile, for a more thorough teaching on the ministry of the Holy Spirit, please check out the following link.
When you read this information, pay close attention to the spiritual breathing concept. The basic premise is to exhale the impure (confess our sin) and inhale the pure (be filled with the Spirit.) Remember sin isn’t only an action like murder, adultery, etc. Sin can also be an attitude of pride, worry, frustration, etc. These are the sins that plague our daily lives and prevent us from living Spirit-filled lives.
If you haven’t tried this moment-by-moment concept of dealing with sin in you life, I hope you’ll begin to practice spiritual breathing. Some days, you’ll feel as if you’re hyperventilating. But press on; it gets easier and God will change your life as you embrace His power over sin.
Have you become more aware of God working in your life? If so, what has He been teaching you about the importance of His Word and His desire for you?