The Perfect Church
The perfect church is obviously as illusive as the LochNess monster. Attempting to find in a congregation of broken people a "whole" church is quite a daunting task. There will always be conflict, there will always be hurt feelings and there will always be issues with which the church will have to deal. But the Bible does give incredible hope for a beautiful, unified church if we as a people commit to the formula.
Now Ephesians 5 does describe a "radiant church without spot or wrinkle" that Christ has washed to present to himself but this description is one of the redemptive work of Christ, not of the practical operating nature of the church here on earth. It speaks to the cleansing done by the shed blood of Jesus on the cross that has made His people pure and perfect in the eyes of the Father. And although this amazing work has established us as children of the most high God it doesn't preclude us from somes times acting here on earth like rotten, spoiled kids. So it is an antidote to this behavior that we need so that we can live as the unified body of Christ.
Fortunately we have been given the simple prescription Peter's pastoral epistle to the church in 1 Peter 4:
8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
The antidote to the inevitable offense that we will suffer at the hands of our brothers and sisters in the church is to love others deeply and serve them faithfully. When we find ourselves offended, especially to the point of breaking fellowship, Peter brilliantly calls us to examine not the offense of others but the degree of our love and service to the offender. This is a love that is not found in us but is provided by the Holy Spirit (in fact is a Fruit of the Spirit) to those who have been regenerated by the Spirit. "Love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sin". May that be the heart of all who attend Mercy Hill. It may not make us a perfect church but it will make us a perfectly loving church which is the most we can hope and strive for this side of heaven.