People today are looking for connection, and they will cross all kinds of boundaries and lines to find it. They will hang out with people engaging in destructive behavior, or join groups, gangs, and criminal enterprises just to belong somewhere. It’s interesting that no matter how dysfunctional the group, people will still join because of the connection they crave.
The Scripture says that, “God sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6, NIV). According to 1 Corinthians 12:18, KJV, “God hath set the members every one of them in the body as it hath pleased him.” To set means to place, establish, arrange, or even ordain. The Lord has a set and even ordained place and purpose for all of His people. He determines the location for the believer as well as the function of the believer. He has a set place and purpose for you too.
Every Christian needs to get and and get quickly the revelation that it is impossible, however, to bring hundreds of dysfunctional people together into the church and expect the church to be automatically highly functional. We just can’t walk through the church door, and swoosh, instant function. Why? Because the curse from sin damaged everything in life, including our ability to relate, communicate, and belong. But thanks be to God we have been redeemed from the curse so we can become functional in every social structure of our lives, including the church.
The first key to restoring function to the church is to be mindful of our own dysfunction. People in the church, just like the rest of the world, struggle with a performance mentality, anger, drama, alienation, addiction, sexual looseness, pride, selfishness, trying to fix others, social backwardness, control, strife, jealousy and envy, pessimism, gossip, fear, deception, and many other types of dysfunction. Our places of worship can never become functional unless we all become aware of our own dysfunctions.
Second, we need to be graceful to the dysfunction of others. One thing I’ve observed over many years of ministry is that we want grace for our dysfunction and problems, and judgment for the dysfunctions of others. The Bible says that the merciful are blessed. The church is filled with people at varying levels of recovery from dysfunction. Mercy empowers them to change, but condemnation helps to lock them into a pattern of destructive repetition. We simply can’t reject others for their dysfunction without ignoring our own.
Finally, we must be faithful to the one who can heal the dysfunction. The Lord longs to restore His people, but we must remain plugged in and under the means of grace or the place He has set us. What many Christians do not realize, it’s the dysfunction, not the Holy Spirit, pushing you to leave your set place and faith family. Many believers just do not stay set long enough to get healing from the dysfunction before that very dysfunction drives them from their set place and their restoration.
By being mindful and aware of our own dysfunction, gracious and merciful to the dysfunction of others, and by staying where the Lord puts us, we can expect the Lord to begin to bring healing to our dysfunction while he elevates the degree of function overall in our local church. The church is a hospital and not a showcase for perfection, so there should always be works in progress. The key is to progress in dysfunction and help others to do the same.