Often maligned, often deservedly. And I have to admit that I’ve been among those who have said things like “I love Christ but I dont like the Church” or “I love Christ but it’s Christians that drive me nuts”. While I think, I hope, that people understand that what I’m meaning is that I dont like how the Church often acts and presents itself, but the fact is, I’m wrong. And I repent of that before God and the Net.
There can be no separation between the Church and Christ. There can be no separation between Christians and Christ. To love one is to love the other. And perhaps, even more scary, to hate one is to hate the other. We simply cannot draw a distinction between the Church and Christ. The Church is the body of Christ. The Church is Christ on earth. We cannot love the groom but hate His bride.
There is a popular retail clothing store that carries products that make fun of and rip on God and those who believe in him. Its very en vogue to be anti-God. One day while shopping there, I had this thought. I someone said some of these things about my wife, I would straight cut them off. If someone said to me, “Dude, you are awesome, but your wife is a piece of work, how could you have married her?” It’s go time, right? There might be words, there might be blows, but the friendship is certainly over. So the thought was, why do I tolerate that same mentality in that one store. We havent been back since.
I love Christ. And I love the Church. I love Christ. I love Christians. Sure, some do some pretty dumb things. Sure, some do things that make Christ look bad. Sure, some push others from the Kingdom rather than pull them into the Kingdom. But they are still Christ’s body (please note that I am not advocating a stance of freedom and no disipline, the Bible is clear on what to do with brothers/sisters who are in sin).
The thing is, Jesus said He is coming back for a bride without spot or wrinkle. Guess what? He hasnt come back yet. That must mean we have wrinkles and spots left. And if He knows it, it isnt my job to point them out. Its my job to exercise love and grace (and at times truth).
Can we do this together? Can we commit to love the Church? Perhaps just because we love Christ? Can we love Christians? Can we, when faced with people who have been hurt by a Christian, ask forgiveness for the sins of our fellows instead of trying to disassociate with them? And ultimately, can we be the examples of what the Body should look like?