Just as an immaculate barn might be a nice place to visit, a problem-free church may have some attraction to us. But it’s the barn with the messes on the floor and smell of animals that will see “abundant crops” at harvest time.
Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.
On my worst, most selfish days, I just want everything clean and quiet. No legos on the floor. No wrestling matches threatening our furniture’s safety. Clean and quiet is easy and comfortable.
But we have six kids. No messes, no noises means everybody’s gone or something’s wrong.
On my worst days as a pastor, I just want to be in a church where everyone agrees about everything, everyone is happy and pleased with each other (and especially with me). I want yes-men as elders, robots as deacons, and a general lack of strong opinions on any side.
But we’re not supposed to be focused on easy and clean. We have a mission in front of us that won’t be achieved without some messes in the barn along the way. We are praying for the kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. A church with no problems may seem blessed, but that church may have traded in their value in the kingdom for a little peace and quiet. No arguments, no problems isn’t so much a sign of blessing as it is a sign of ineffectiveness.