The path to joy in church, marriage, and life is to accept that there will always be imperfections, to accept that there will always be areas of disappointment—but to be willing to celebrate the strengths while tolerating the weaknesses. Just as it is the glory of a man to overlook an offense, it is the glory of a Christian to overlook a weakness—to find greater joy in what encourages than in what disappoints.
Charles Spurgeon said it. Billy Graham said it. And even though it’s not really all that funny anymore, most of us have probably said it as well. It goes something like this: “Don’t bother looking for the perfect church since, the moment you join it, it won’t be perfect anymore.” Zing!
There’s truth behind the quote, of course. It would be impractical and, frankly, ridiculous to expect that a bunch of sinful people could join together to create a sinless community—to imagine that perfection could arise from the confluence of a hundred lives as imperfect as yours and mine. Yet, though we know perfection is impossible, don’t we all sometimes still grow frustrated at the sheer messiness of Christian individuals and Christian churches? Don’t we all sometimes face the temptation to pack up and move on when our fellow believers act like the sinners they are?
A little while ago I was speaking to a young man who is a fan of computer-based Role Playing Games. He explained that what draws him to these games is the ability to custom-craft a character, then to discover how that unique character interacts within the world of the game. When he creates a new character, he is given a finite number of points that he can allocate in a nearly infinite number of ways—some to strength, some to intelligence, some to charisma, some to agility, and so on. In the end he has always created a character that has both strengths and weaknesses, all depending upon the way he has allocated the points. What he can never do is create a character that is only strong and not the least bit weak.