The ideal is enticing. But the reality is that the Church can look more like a stable. The Wisemen of old traveled through the ancient East longing to see the promised King. What were the expectations of the men? Indeed, not of a dirty barn, cow poo everywhere. Of course, the King of Kings would be in a temple, mansion, and perhaps a castle, but instead, he was in with the livestock. How underwhelming, and frankly disappointing to find the King looking average, maybe even a little disappointing.
A couple of months ago, I drank Kopi Luwak coffee. Coffee is famous for its price and origins. Each cup of coffee was about 50 dollars. So, what do 450 dollars a bag of coffee taste like? Like coffee. The first sip was disappointing. The expectations were so high that nothing would meet them. Over a few sips, the coffee did not disappoint. It was a fantastic cup of coffee. In my mind I was expecting perfection, perhaps even a little fireworks, but what I found was coffee, good coffee.
The Church is a little of both, both a star and a stable. The place can be a bit dirty, kind of messy, and a work in progress. A star feels so divine, distant, beyond human touch. Sometimes the Lord’s Church feels like that too. A place of love, encouragement, and fantastic people. Perhaps the struggle in ministry is balancing the two realities. Sometimes we excuse people too much. What can you expect from broken Christians? Other times we demand too much. All people everywhere need to fulfill my spiritual expectations. She was rude, he did not return my call, and did you hear those people talking about gossip. We are too hard on people. Other times we do not hold people accountable. Balancing the star and stable in the Church is an essential act to find contentment. People demand or excuse but rarely seek the balance between the two realities of Christianity. Either side can push out the other. Neither being all star nor all stable is the ideal congregation; rather, the mature mindset is that I can appreciate the star and the stable at the same time. Church offers both, room at the stable, as we all follow the Morning Star.