runaway bride

a few years ago, i was at a men’s conference in a local church and i made a new friend. i was in a very disenfranchised and arrogant  state of mind regarding church and all of its various attachments. at that point in time and i made a comment to him…i said, “the Bride of Christ is incredibly screwed up.” he didn’t miss a beat, responding to me, “yet, He still loves her immensely.” that was a major defining moment for me…it rocked my world…it literally made me stop and catch by breath as i re-thought my attitude and mindset regarding the church. it was then that i realized that i was part of the problem…in fact, perhaps the larger part…because in all of my ponderings and thoughts about how bad off the modern church is, i never stopped to consider the solution…instead all i cared about doing was pointing the finger of judgment at the church, calling it “judgmental” (irony at its finest), and feeling superior in what i felt was a keen insight on reality. meanwhile, there she was…floundering…struggling…trying… and there i was…not helping one bit…not stopping to think about the fact that although the people of the modern church are severely flawed, they are also, for the most part, a group of people supporting the work of a Jesus they believe in. in short, they may be getting a lot of things wrong…but they are also trying…sometimes in a misguided way…but they are making some effort.

one of the biggest problems the church faces is that of being dynamic while also holding to age old truths, and more often than not, change is something that is regarded as possibly harmful (doctrinally speaking), so we will tend to err on the side of caution and not change things over long periods of time. we see this as “staying true to the Word,” but in many cases, it is more that we are staying true to our own personal preferences and those of our ancestry. we then become stagnant and if someone walked in off the street to evaluate us, they may well think that we are just going through religious motions without really having any kind of passion for the Savior for Whom we are named. it’s very hard to know what is right sometimes, because while the core truth never changes, its various applications and methods must by necessity change.

the solution to this is hard to figure out, for obvious reasons. one thing that has become a practice…and a very harmful one…one which i espoused…is that of abandonment. many people abandon the church because they don’t see it as being what Christ intended it to be…welcome to the club…for none of us have arrived at that destination yet. however, there is a very harsh attitude that even moves toward apathy…all in the name of Christ…Who loves 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 wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

(Ephesians 5:25-27 ESV)(my emphasis added)

we live in a very egocentric culture…always being more concerned for “me” than for others…and definitely not as concerned with the big picture as we are about ourselves and our preferences…and one way this is bleeding into the church is in this very area… from those that refuse to change to those that refuse to stay because of those that refuse to change…and here’s my question…how can our leaving be the answer to the problem? even Jesus entered into a race that was helpless without Him…and He definitely didn’t abandon us…

so, here’s the point i guess i’m driving at…change is necessary…very necessary…lest we become or remain stagnant. moreover…it’s not just change that is necessary but reform. the church is in dire need of reformation…of this much i’m convinced….we need reformation in our focus, our mission, our intentions, our paradigms…and this will bring about the needed changes. but here’s the thing…reformation takes place from the inside…not from abandonment…and if we love Christ, and we profess to be His people…then we must love what He loves and do what He would do. this is what led luther to nail 95 theses to the church door, challenging many of the concepts and practices of the church of his day. he never believed that the church was to be abandoned…on the contrary, he loved the church…he loved her enough to stick by her though she was very misguided…and God used him along with many others to bring about a total shift in the thinking and practices of the church of his day. think of Jesus…Who is the greatest Reformer of all time…reforming the ideologies of fallen humanity and changing her from the inside out…imagine what it would be like if He had abandoned us…

so how can we, in good conscience, hold the church, the Bride of Christ, with such a high degree of contempt…while saying that we are His people? how can we abandon the body to which He has called us while holding to His Name? how is that Christian? how can we be so arrogant and so unloving…and be doing so in the name of love and humility?

is the bride in rough shape?…sure…but He loves her…with an everlasting love…and we all need a refocusing of what commitment is…we all need to understand that change is gonna come…maybe not at the pace we prefer…and maybe not in ways we would like…but if we set our eyes on Him and make Him the example of how we are to engage this issue then i think we would see a great awakening….the kind that we are all truly desperate for. and the fact is that none of this can or will happen if those of us that see a need to grow and change….keep leaving…thinking that is the Christian thing to do.

Share this blog post:

10 comments on “runaway bride

  1. LeAnn says:

    Pretty interesting! Never thought of it thus way either!

  2. Jay DePoy says:

    “She’s a mystery, isn’t she? Still going after all this time. After the Crusades and the Inquisition. and Christian cable television. Still going. And there continue to be people like me who believe she is one of the best ideas ever. In spite of all the ways she has veered off track. in spite of all the people who have actually turned away from God because of what they experienced in church. I am starting to realize why: The church is like a double edged sword. When it is good, when it’s on, when it’s right, it’s like nothing on earth. A group of people comitted to selflessly serving and loving the world around them? Great. But when it’s bad, all that potential gets turned the other way. From the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows. Sometimes in the same week. Sometimes in the same day.

    But she will live on. She’s indestructable. When she dies in one part of the world, she explodes in another. She’s global. She is universal. She’s everywhere. And while she is fragile, she going to endure. In every generation there will be those who see her beauty and give their lives to see her shine. Jesus said the gates of hell will not prevail against her. That’s strong language. And it’s true. She will continue to roll across the ages, serving and giving and connecting people with God and each other. And people will abuse her and manipulate her and try to control her, but they’ll pass on. And she will keep going.”

    (- I dare not tell you who wrote this, lest we both be stoned.)

  3. Bob Moon says:

    I often grieve at the state of the church as I see her. But who am I??? The Father sees her as His Son’s bride! And by the way, as part of His church, I too am part of that bunch that makes people like me grieve.

    God is so much higher, greater…grander! His ways are indeed higher. And His will WILL be done. He has used donkeys to do His bidding. He can use the church of today! Thanks Steve for your wise words.

  4. MarcellusWallace says:

    The change of the church begins with the change of the one. “when you give….”, “when you pray…”, “when you fast…”, “love God, love people “(paraphrase). Jesus seemed to make these personal for a reason.Sometimes taking care of the enviorment means starting by picking up a gumwraper. True lasting change in the terms of the body begins in a individual limb.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *