One of my fellow seminarians posed that question to me. Here was my answer in the very first draft. I shall meditate on it and pray that God refine it and point out its flaws and deformities to me. But it was definitely what was on my heart.
And one that will take me a while to answer and flesh out completely. My initial thoughts are what I believe God has laid on my heart is a church where we can put away our "puzzle pictures".
I know that you're reading that going "What?". You know when you go into a store and you see puzzles on the shelves. You know why people pick the puzzle they do? Because it's the one that they like the most. It's the one they think looks the "best" or is "beautiful". Or it may match an interest that they have etc etc...
And so they go home, take the pieces out of the box and try to "assemble" the puzzle to match the picture they think it should look like in the end. Our lives are not different. Every one of us, because of sin, tries to pick the picture that we want our lives to resemble, and then begin assembling pieces of our lives to try to make the picture fit. And if a few pieces seem out of place, well we just jam them in there anyway to try and get people to buy the picture we're trying to show them.
And that is what's wrong with American Christianity. We don't realize that the Gospel already paints a picture of us we can't change. We're broken, dirty, hostile, evil, depraved, nasty human beings. That's the picture that every one of us is in God's eyes. NO one is different. We're all the same. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. And yet, through the punishment and redemption purchased for us at the cross by the blood of Jesus, we all once again have the same picture presented for us "Jesus". That's who we are to follow and that's the picture and puzzle we are to display.
But yet we define ourselves in so many ways other than Jesus and what He has done for us, what He continues to do for us, what He has promised to do for us, and what He will always do for us.And what I want, and what I believe is Biblical. What I pray and sense that God has laid on my heart is to have a community that is so transformed by the power of Jesus through His Word and Holy Spirit, that their lives more and more simply display the picture of Jesus. A church where Biblical commands to love poor, homeless, and widowed and joyfully and generously embraced. A church where the Gospel and only the Gospel is accepted as the hope that we have not only for our salvation but also for our sanctification. You can never get away from the Gospel and it's ongoing role and centrality in the life of the believer.
I want a church where "style" is meaningless but "substance" carries the day. I want a church where lives and pride and agendas and evil thoughts and desires are cast aside to spread the wonder of the Kingdom of God here on Earth now, and also that proclaims the Kingship and Lordship that Jesus enjoys as we speak.
I want a church where forgiveness and grace are given freely because they have been given freely to us. I want a church where people feel comfortable confronting in love because they know that transformation is better than deterioration. I want a church where all gives freely to each as they have need. I want Jesus to be real, and to be exalted, and to cast aside a dependence on this world and the pathetic shadows
it tries to offer. Jesus is the substance and shall be forevermore.