In the past few weeks I have been alarmed and even frustrated with some blogs, facebook posts and youtube videos. It seems it is in vogue to talk about how ugly the bride of Christ is. It seems popular to bash the church - to highlight her flaws. Certainly, there are assemblies that meet today under the name of “church” that have no desire for real doctrine, no hunger for truth, no accountability or discipline; and yet, they claim to be a church - but that is not a real church according to Scripture. The truth is that the bride of Christ is made up of people who have been redeemed by Christ, that have a hunger and thirst for holiness, and they come together and connect for God’s glory, “warts and all.” Part of the beauty of the Church is that even though we sit by selfish, older or younger people that may be nothing like us, we are unified because of the sacrifice of Christ.
I read a post a week (or so) ago that said something like this: “I have been in church most of my life and some of the meanest people sit in the pews. Yet I have been in bars and know some people that would give you the shirt off their back.” Let me state first, I would imagine in those same bars, restaurants or mall that there are some very kind people, there are probably some very giving people, but also in that same room you will find people who will gossip about you, lie about you and even steal from you. Some within the church would also be found to be extremely generous and “giving”. But, the comparison this person is making is between the worse experience in the church and best experience from the bar (or anywhere else). Let me state, for the record that religious people can be extremely vile, but so can people at any restaurant. Should we expect more from the Church? Certainly! We should expect more from the people of God and, if the church would function as it should with grace, love and biblical confrontation there would certainly be less of this. However, I go to church with people who are struggling with gossip, lust, anger, lying and myriad of other issues. God has placed us together to help us sharpen each other, to provoke one another to good works, and to aid in one another’s sanctification. It is really easy to take cheap shots at the bride of Christ and truthfully, the world and believers should expect her to look more like her Groom: however, if you kept telling me how you like me, but despise my wife I would conclude two things: (1) You don’t like me as much as you say or you wouldn’t hate my wife (2) One of the ways you can love me is by being kind to my wife. I believe Christ says the same thing general thing when he states things like: Jn. 13:5 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." Or 1st Jn. 4:20, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” If I was always quick to point out to my wife the beauty of other women, only to point out her flaws, would that be love?
All this to say, there should be a higher expectation among the people of God, but there also should be an understanding that we are sinners, saved by grace, being sanctified by Christ, His Word and His people. As a believer, if I attempt to make my case by pointing out the best of morality in man and the worst of the hypocritical church-goer, it leads to weak strawman arguments. Is the Church perfect? No. Can we glorify Christ as we strive to live holy under the authority of the Word and mutual accountability? Yes. She may not be all that pretty now, but on that wedding day she/we will presented spotless as we worship the King!