realistic expectations of church

This weekend I'm preaching at Crossroads, and the topic is "Realistic Expectations of Church." Or maybe it's "church." I'm not sure. But I'm preaching about it. I'm really into the topic, but I'm also finding it difficult to try to communicate. Over the course of my life I've been involved in various churches and in a number of Christian communities, friendships, etc. I've also done a lot of reading on ecclesiology (the nature of the church), thinking about it, talking about it, and all that. I'm currently planning on eventually planting a church or some kind of Christian community. So this topic is near and dear to my heart.

I feel like over all this time when I read something in the Bible about the church - the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, the light of the world, the salt of the earth, this redemptive and healing community - when I read about this in Scripture it resonates with something deep inside of me. I feel like I get a glimpse of this incredibly beautiful plan for people living in unity and experiencing the best life has to offer - and it's beyond my ability to describe or put into words effectively.

The sad thing is how many times Christians have turned this glorious thing into an ugly, domineering organization. What God intended to be an incredible breaking-in of His Kingdom they turn into building their own kingdoms, trying to get power over others and make them feel inferior, etc. Nothing is more beautiful than the Body of Christ when it's working right, and nothing is more hideous than it being abusive. I only pray that I can encourage people to see the vision God has for His church, and they're able to connect in their hearts to the indescribable beauty that is God's family.

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