Summary: This sermon is based on the book Messy Spirituality by Michael Yaconelli. It is an encouragement to keep serving in spite of our imperfections.
A. There’s a story told of a preacher who was preaching a message about the fact that no one is perfect.
1. To prove his point he asked for anyone who was perfect to stand up.
2. One man stood up in the middle of the congregation.
3. The preacher asked him, “Do you really think you are perfect?”
4. The man replied, “Oh no! I’m not perfect. I’m standing up on behalf of my wife’s first husband!”
B. In a book called, Children’s Letters to God, a little boy wrote, “Dear God, I’m doing the best I can. Frank.”
1. I think that is a prayer that most of us either do pray, or feel like praying.
2. And I believe it is a prayer that God understands and appreciates.
C. Today’s message has been stirring around in my heart and mind for weeks, and I hope and pray that it comes out in a way that is clear and helpful.
1. Let me give you the “short and sweet” of what I’m trying to say today, “Perfection is unattainable, and it is worth aiming toward, but God loves us, even in our imperfection.”
2. In today’s lesson, I’m not promoting a lowering of our standards, nor an acceptance of sin in our lives.
3. What I will be doing is challenging us to not give up in the midst of our imperfection.
4. I’m encouraging us not to punish ourselves with our failures.
5. And I want us all to realize that failure does not disqualify us from participation in the life and work of the church. If it did, then there would be no one in the church!
D. Someone gave me a book a few years back called Messy Spirituality, by Michael Yaconelli.
1. I read much of the book at the time I received it, and I’ve been revisiting the book over the past month as I thought about this message.
2. Most of my thoughts today are prompted by Yaconelli’s words from that book.
E. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a godly person.
1. Like most or all of you, I want to be a good person. I don’t want to fail.
2. I want to know God better. I want to be consistent in my walk with God.
3. I want to be remembered someday as a person who loved God, who served others more than he served himself, and who was trying to grow in maturity and stability.
4. But even though I want all those things and try hard to make them a reality in my life, I so often fall short of those goals.
5. Even though I am an elder and minister and I think about Jesus every day, my following of Jesus is inconsistent.
6. The main consistency in my life is my inconsistency. Can you relate to that?
F. I want to be a spiritual person, but the way I think about spirituality or judge myself about my spirituality, is often faulty.
1. When we think about spirituality, we commonly think of a person who prays all day long, who reads their Bibles consistently, who never gets angry or rattled, who possesses special powers and has an inside track to God.
2. So spirituality, then, has an “otherworldly” ring to it.
3. We picture people who have forsaken the world, taken vows of poverty and have isolated themselves in cloisters.
4. Perhaps that is a certain kind of spirituality that works for some, but what about the rest of us?
5. What does spirituality look like for those of us who live in the city, who work sixty hours a week, or who have a family?
6. What about those of us who are divorced and who are still trying to heal from the scars of rejection, or are trying to cope with the single-parenting of children who don’t understand why this has happened to them?
7. What does spirituality look like for us imperfect people struggling in an imperfect world and in imperfect situations?
G. What I want to grasp for myself, and encourage others to embrace is the notion that spirituality is not a formula – it is a relationship.
1. Spirituality is not about competency – it is about intimacy.
2. Spirituality is not about perfection – it is about connection.
3. Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality.
4. So, Spirituality is not about being fixed and finished – it is about God being present in the mess and unfinishedness of our lives.
H. When I look in the Bible, I see that its pages overflow with messy people.
1. The biblical writers did not edit out the flaws of its heroes.