This video cracks me up… and it also makes me a little sad. It is sad because this critic is all too familiar – not just to me, but probably to most church leaders. In our consumer culture, where some people have little more allegiance to their covenant community than they do to Wal Mart, K-Mart, or Target, it is all too easy to complain and then cut-and-run.
Jesus calls the Church his “Bride”. Joshua Harris calls such nit-pickers “Church Daters”.
What are the Marks of Church Dater? In his excellent little book, Stop Dating the Church, Harris identifies three:
Harris goes on to write:
Church-daters don’t realize that what they assume is working for personal gain is actually resulting in serious loss – for themselves and for others.
The plain fact is, when we resist passion and commitment in our relationship with the church, everyone gets cheated out of God’s Best:
- You cheat yourself.
- You cheat a church community.
- You cheat your world.
And Harris suggests something about a lack of commitment to the local church:
Wouldn’t that be like telling your new bride that while your love is true, you have other priorities? Your heart of course is all hers, but as for the rest of you … well, you’ll be in and out.
But Harris also offers this encouragement:
When a person stops “dating” the church they’re not just adding another item to their “to do” list. …Instead they’re finally getting started on experiencing all the other blessings Jesus promised.
Harris is right, on all accounts.
I have no doubt that criticisms often leveled against the Church – the churches I have served, and all others – are probably aimed toward at least a kornal of truth. Churches have problems. Churches are filled with people, all of whom have problems. There is an old saying:
This church would be a wonderful place… IF it wasn’t filled with all these people!
So finding things to bash is not difficult. No question the local church has warts and scars that make her at times less than attractive. But she is the Bride of Christ. So it might be helpful for us all to remember how precious the Bride is to Our Lord. He is aware of the present realities – the ugliness. But he has also promised to make her beautiful. As John Stott reminded us about the Bride of Christ:
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 this constructive end that Christ has been working and is continuing to work. The bride does not make herself presentable; it is the bridgegroom who labours to beautify her in order to present her to himself.
2 thoughts on “Bashing the Bride”
Great stuff! Thanks.
Your so very right on with this Dennis. We always need to remember that the Church is the Bride of Christ. So easy to forget sometimes.
Having said that, it’s also so easy for some churches to forget there is a world out there that needs them as well.
This is not a reflection of Church size but some Churhes choose to have smaller impacts in their communities and the world because:
A lack of unified purpose
Holding on to existing and outdated structures
They don’t define & implement strategies
Don’t embrace new leadership
Fail to establish new systems
Don’t prepare finacially
Don’t welcome counsel
The above are not my points, but they do reflect issues alot of Churches have these days. Especially those that lean towards a more inward forcused perspective. The difference is do we have a Discipleship mentality or I guess you could say Missional mentality, but that word can mean so many things to different folks these days….That is do we as a Church have on our hearts what God has on his ?
Don’t get me wrong. As we gather together in places we call Church, (it could be a store front, a home, a big building, an old school or traditional church building) our purpose is Worship our God, Savior & Lord and Honer Him. But isn’t the Church really the people ? As we know, we are the temple of God and the Holy Spirit Lives within us and we worship in buildings made without hands ! His people are the bride !
The issue for me then is people and I think we get folks bashing the Church beacuse we (and some of the bashers) at least forget our purpose in part and the impact we all can and should have on people around us !
Kinda goes to the first point above…Lack of unified purpose. Beside our Holy Worship, Church is about people and equipping them to disciple others: their neighbors, fellow workers, friends, families and others. To transform lives thru the Gospel.
We so easy slip into the mentality of Church being about me ! I think you had a post about that a few days ago… When we get self focused vice God Focused then we can so easy get into a Church & people bashing mode. God forgive us.