Friday, February 27, 2009
Losing my Religion AND Loving God’s Church
I just read another article about how the church is missing it. Last week I read a book about how the church is failing. There are quite a few blogs (in the hundreds of thousands) that carry the same sentiment. (Inhale deeply). Since my Blogs are consistently titled “Killing Churchianity” or “Losing my Religion,” you’d think I’d be thrilled.
But I’m not. In fact, I’m done for a while.
Reading blogs, books, and articles about how the church is missing it, I mean. I’ve had my fill, at least for a bit. Maybe it’s because I’m a Pastor, and I love my church. Wow. There it is. I love my church. I said it out loud. I love my church. It feels like I’ve come out of some kind of theological closet. I LOVE my church.
Now, I don’t love her in a completely unqualified way. I don’t love everything about her. But I’m trying to love her in a completely unconditional way. In other words, I’m trying to love this Bride of Jesus like I imagine Jesus loves his bride.
And maybe that’s really at the core of this. The church is the Bride of Christ. The picture given to us by Scripture is that of a Bride. She’s not perfect. But Jesus himself loves her, Jesus himself is washing her, growing her, perfecting her, and loving her in His gentle, persistent, washing-dirty-feet kind of way.
So. Let’s place it in human terms. If my best friend is getting married, and suddenly: books, blogs, and articles are written about how fat his bride appears, how dumb his bride seems, how irrelevant his bride dresses, or how hypocritical his bride acts…I might find myself in more than a few fist-fights. HE loves her, and that’s really all that matters.
People who are a whole lot smarter than I am (minds I truly respect, and friends I honestly love) are skilled at voicing frustrations with the Church, and attacking with precision her myriad shortcomings. But you would NEVER treat your wife with that kind of disdain. If you did, I’d conclude you hate her.
Maybe your argument is that since we ARE the church, we can be self-critical. And certainly the Apostle Paul is a case study in this (feel free to start in Corinthians and work your way through). But I would argue that if ALL of our self-talk is critical, then we have a problem with self-loathing. And we’ve again missed the heart of Jesus for His bride.
So let’s bring a little love to the discussion.
There is incredible loveliness and victory to be found in the Church, all over this nation, and all over the world. There is noble sacrifice and generosity. There are sincere people struggling toward pure hearts and holy living. As Giglio says, “The Church is KILLING it all over the globe!” There is also a good deal of mess, because the Church is full of messy, broken people. But that’s not the Headline in this fallen world, that’s just the Setting. The REAL story is that Jesus loves her, anyway.
Can I get a witness? Anybody else want to come out of the closet and love their church?