Sunday Thoughts


by Al Sturgeon
(published each week in Desperate Houseflies)


I don’t like messes. Ask my youth minister. My office is never messy. I wouldn’t be able to stand it. Now I don’t apologize for this. Although “cleanliness being next to godliness” isn’t found in the Bible, I do think a case can be made that God isn’t messy. He loves messy people, but He offers metaphors of cleanliness. He washes away messes. He makes our robes fresh and clean and pure. I do not think “messy” is good, but my “mess-a-phobia” has me all screwed up – at least in my whole view of church – so if you’ll pardon the pun, I’m going to try to come clean.

When I came to Ocean Springs, I had the mega-church bug. I truly believed that if we would work out all the kinks, we’d bust out walls for all the people that would come. I didn’t hear Field of Dreams voices, but I might as well have. And what I hoped we would build together, at least at first, was a healthy environment. “Healthy bodies grow,” I told myself, and for over six years now I’ve been fussing over church health. I think we are much healthier now, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing! But it’s a misguided end-all goal. At least that’s what I’m thinking now.

Here’s the deal: There is no such thing as a healthy church. In the history of mankind, there has never been a mess-free group of people. Things have always been messy because sin is messy, and if you’ll pardon my “blunt-ness,” I now see that any place held up as a healthy church must not have any sin, which in John’s terminology would be a flat-out lie.

So after six years of wrong thinking, I’m trying a new approach. I don’t think we can be “mess free” without lying or leaving, so instead, my new goal is for love to be at the center of everything we do. I have a dream that everyone (and I mean everyone!) that comes to this family would simply be loved, though love isn’t simple, but messy. I’m just coming to terms with that.

So don’t be surprised if you visit here and discover that someone hurt your feelings or that everyone isn’t having a happy day, and don’t be surprised if a kid breaks something or if someone is grumpy. It may be messy. It will be messy. There have always been messes, and there always will be messes. Our calling, while we continue to clean up, is not to get rid of them once and for all. Instead, our calling is to love. Love the unwanted, dispossessed, and needy, yes. But also, love the whiners, complainers, and grouchy, too.

That, my friends, would be grace. And that, in my new world, would be success.

– Al Sturgeon


One Response to “Sunday Thoughts”

  1. Soren Says:

    Amen Al! Some good stuff there brother!

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