This a a re-post of something I wrote over two years ago. The terms, “Church” and “Christianity,” often stir up a wide-range of negative emotions— anger, rage, dissatisfaction, dissapointment, hurt, etc. And I understand why. It’s full of people! People hurt and disappoint and fall short of their own goals or standards. People in the church fall short of Christ’s standards. And that brings tremendous shame on the Church and Christianity. But…..
I am grieved by the attitude so many Christians maintain towards ‘the church’. The church, local and worldwide, with all the good, bad, and ugly, is loved by Jesus. He died for it. He died for us. We are the church.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or blemish….no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of His body.” Ephesians 5:25-27, 29-30
Christ gave Himself up for the church. He separated it for Himself, He cherishes the church.
There’s so much dissatisfaction with either the local church or the church in general, that many either choose not to be part of one, or they change churches like they change their clothes..trying them on to see what fits or “looks good.” They check it out saying, “does this one make me look fat?” or “how do I feel about this one—today?” Statements such as “the church doesn’t meet my needs, “I don’t like the worship”, or the quintessential excuse, “the church is full of hypocrites”, is all too common. All these sentiments lead to the same outcome; dissatisfaction with others, disconnection with Jesus Christ, and ultimately, disillusionment with their faith. My heart aches, because it is HIS Church!
“And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be the head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way. (Eph.1:22-23)
In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Eph. 2:21-22 )
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” (Rev 19:7)
“And I saw the holy city, new Jersualem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Rev 21:2)
When Christians complain about the church, they’re railing against the Beloved of Jesus. “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine!” In our own families, we get defensive if someone speaks negatively about our spouse, siblings, or one of our children (even if we’re aware of their faults!) How much more does it hurt the Lord when we speak against His Bride?
Let me close with a quote by a more eloquent and theologically-estute communicator, about the church:
On earth she is often in rags and tatters, stained and ugly, despised and persecuted. But one day she will be seen for what she is, nothing less than the bride of Christ, “Free from spots, wrinkles or any other disfigurement,” holy and without blemish, beautiful and glorious. It is to this constructive end that Christ has been working and is continuing to work. The bride does not make herself presentable; it is the bridegroom who labours to beautify her in order to present her to himself. John Stott
Be patient with the work that Christ and the Holy Spirit are doing to complete and beautify His Bride. Please don’t diminish or spurn the very one Jesus loves with complaints or strife. It’s His Church!