Our culture seeks perfection in everything. The perfect job, friend, boyfriend, spouse, car, weight, teeth, hair. The list goes on and on. The ads in magazines and TV tout products and services guaranteed to help us achieve this state of perfection.
I know better than to swallow this lie. My teeth will never be perfectly white or straight. My hair will always have that little wave right in the middle of my otherwise perfectly straight coiffure, and as I age, I fall shorter and shorter of our culture's model of perfection. I am okay with that. I am also okay with imperfection in other areas as well. My husband is no longer the physical Adonis I married,burr I still love him. I forgive my friends's shortcomings, and never think of, or mention, family slights or miss-communications. None of it matters, not really, except in my church.
After leaving my hometown and the church I attended for most of my life, I have been searching for another church community and have yet to find one where I felt as comfortable. This last Sunday I was again reviewing local churches and rejecting first this one and then that one. There was always some imperfection, some flaw. Not necessarily in dogma, but in practice.
After much prayer, I felt the Spirit guiding me toward one particular community, but I balked. Some of the clergy in the hierarchical offices had acted scandalously in a very public manner, and I couldn't abide by their hypocrisy. Although the local church was not directly involved, I associated any attendance with support and approval of those ministers. I rejected the church without ever attending a service and continued my search, only to be drawn toward it again and again.
Frustrated and confused, I fell to my knees and asked God what He wanted me to do. He sorted it all out by pointing out the beam in my eye. I sought perfection from imperfect men and women. Just because the group was labeled a church did not mean it magically became a place of perfection. There would always be flaws, not in the basic dogma or beliefs, but in the clergy and other members. Nothing on this earth will ever be perfect and I had to accept the flaws in the church the same way I accepted them in my family and myself. As I have stated several times in other posts, what matters is the effort and the intention, what is in our hearts, not how many times we fail.
Don't misunderstand me. Anyone in a position of authority, and indeed we ourselves, should be held accountable for their/our actions, particularly when acting on behalf of the Christian community, and cannot be allowed to purposely mislead or in anyway ignore the tenets of our faith. St. Paul vigilantly held the churches in account for scriptural and behavioral deviations - but did not throw up his hands and walk away from the faith - or Church - because of imperfection. He continued to implore them to change their behavior and mold themselves after Christ.
I cannot use imperfection as an excuse not to attend services or join a faith community. So, this Sunday, it is off to Church I go, right along with the rest of the imperfect.