When the Soul Goes Dark #7 of The 7 Characteristics of a Perfect Church

bad dream

It’s dark outside. And the shadows of the night linger in my soul. I just woke up from a dream gone bad. I know in my mind it’s not real. Yet, I still feel the emotions. Webster describes this as a nightmare, a dream that causes fear, horror or distress.

In my dream, I lost two things, my calendar and my phone. The silliness of that strikes me now. At this point of my life, my calendar is so sparse, it’s hardly worth writing things down. And my phone outsmarts me to the point that I’m thinking of going back to a basic one that allows me to do the one thing I actually need. To talk to people

What was it that changed a silly dream into a serious nightmare? It was how I reacted to my loss. In my dream, I was so disturbed, my soul shut down everything I knew about dealing with difficult circumstances.

I was familiar with God’s promise to work all things in my life for good. (Romans 8:28) And yet, I had no desire to thank Him or claim His promises. (I Thessalonians 5:18) And I had no desire to confess my sin of unbelief and resistance toward God’s Spirit. (John 1:9)

At one point in my dream, I was lost and couldn’t find my seat in a huge church filled with strangers. I became frantic and when a godly man tried to talk to me, I literally could not listen to him. Instead, I continued to desperately search for my place in the crowd. To no avail.

I don’t know if my dream has some kind of deeper meaning. Perhaps losing my calendar is a fear of losing more than my short term memory. And perhaps losing my phone is my very real frustration with trying to keep up with the demands of today’s technological challenges. Those are things I’m actually dealing with in my life.

But to lose my desire to worship and honor God and His Word? Even in my dream, I knew this was serious. And yet, I wasn’t willing to turn to the one Person who could quiet my soul.

When I woke up, reality struck. Could I ever lose my desire to worship God? The answer was clear. Yes, I could! Worship is a check-point choice we make every waking moment of every day. Simply put, it’s like our youngest daughter used to say to me when I was in a bad mood. “Who’s on the throne, Mommy?”

true worship

Reflect on the meaning behind this profound call to true worship. “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable, This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2 New Living Translation)

True worship isn’t born in a place made of brick and mortar. True worship is born in the human heart of every person who loves God and honors His Word in every area of life.

When we gather to worship in our various churches, we may not all agree on the methods or the music. But when we worship together in the power of God’s Spirit and according to the truth of God’s Word, (John 4:23-24) something wonderful happens. We forget our differences and focus on the one thing on which we all agree. Our desire to honor and give praise to our God for who He is.

This is why I’ve selected worship as the seventh characteristic of the “perfect” church. One characteristic is not necessarily more important than the other. But as they are woven together, the church becomes a glowing example of the body of Christ. Here they are.

It is the responsibility of church leaders to train and prepare God’s people:

  1. to understand and apply the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our moment-by-moment everyday lives.

  2. to understand how to study and apply God’s Word.

  3. to understand and utilize the privilege and the power of prayer.

  4. to understand how to minister to others by utilizing our motivational spiritual gifts.

  5. to understand how to love one another and to develop a heart for the lost and needy.

  6. to witness for Christ as a way of life.

  7. to understand and appreciate the importance of worship, both individually and corporately.

This list is by no means all inclusive. Along the way, you may have thought of other characteristics that help to define not a perfect church, but a healthy one. I’d love to know what they are. Or perhaps you can share how your church has helped you to mature in your spiritual growth. That would be the icing on this cake we’ve been making together. Feel free to share!

icing a cake

(Note: Next time, I’ll conclude the series with a Christmas message and biblical charge to the church.)

woman on computer

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