God has sovereignly placed you in your local church and given you the pastors you have. He has given you the people in your fellowship and they have imperfections, just as you do. Yet those weaknesses that you see in your local church can be the very things God is using to conform you to the image of Christ and to teach you to abound in love. So don’t go back from a conference and compare the experience there with that from your local church and begin to despise your local church.
Before we go to the text and look at it I'm compelled to share something. The fellowship here at this conference is just wonderful. I look forward to it every year as a participant. The preaching, like last night, has always been edifying stirring, for me personally. But there's a potential danger that I want us to avoid. The danger is to hear preaching of these men, to have fellowship with these brothers and sisters, to hear the testimonies, and then to leave here and go home to your local assembly and begin to compare. It very easily, if you're not careful beloved, can lead you to begin to despise your local assembly. As wonderful as it is to gather for these few days in worship and fellowship together, there's an aspect of this that's somewhat misleading. It's two and a half days. And we've left most of our normative responsibilities at home right now. But what I mean by this is the fellowship here, the worship here, the love we share here, it's genuine, it's real, I'm not implying anything but that. It is genuine and real. But if we all just stayed at Camp Copass, and this became our local church, beloved, it would not be long before we'd begin to find faults with one another. It wouldn't be very long before you'd begin to find faults with the preaching and the preachers. I guess what I'm trying to say is our weekend get-togethers like this are wonderful. I'm thankful for them, they're edifying, but they should not be compared to those you live life with. Week after week, month after month, and year after year in your local assembly. With all the different local churches represented here, we should be gleaning from one another this is a good time to learn from one another. But we must be careful that we don't enjoy the blessing here and then again, measure our experience in these two and a half days with what we experience back home week after week with our assemblies. If you do that you'll begin to love what your local church could be, but you'll despise what they are. I shared with a brother earlier this week that I read Dietrich Bonhoeffer's book Life Together: An Exploration of Christian Community And he says, speaking of the local church in that book, he says this: "He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself, becomes a destroyer of the latter even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest, and sacrificial." In other words, if I love what my local church could be, but I don't love what they are (the very thing I desire for them and to be with them) I begin to destroy. Beloved, God has sovereignly placed you in your local church. He's given you your pastors. He's given you those people and they're very imperfect. But those weaknesses that you see in your local church and your pastors may be the very thing God is using to conform you to the image of Christ and teach you to abound in love. One last reminder is Jesus Christ identifies with the weakest of the genuine believers. He doesn't despise them. I'm not condoning immaturity or idleness in any person or any local church. We should pray for our assemblies to grow. We should pray for our pastors to grow, but here's the warning. Once you begin to think the problem with my local church not being like what I experienced here the moment you begin to think the problem that's keeping us from getting here are those people and that pastor in my local church, and you remove yourself from the problem that keeps you from this, you're very dangerous to your local church. So guard your heart. Enjoy the blessing of the week. But don't go back and compare the experience here to your local church, and begin to despise them. Let's pray for God's grace upon the Word, and over that warning.