I’ve been a part of the Church for long enough now to have witnessed her treatment both outwardly and from within. I think it’s safe to say that my generation has been one to take a hard look at the Church as a whole in an attempt to be honest about it’s faults and failures and, in the process, become a Church that looks more like the Body of Christ Jesus called us to be, rather than a religious institution which alienates it’s outsiders and stands to serve itself alone. While self reflection and conviction are all a part of the refining process in which we all must endure to be molded and shaped into that which resembles Christ (and I encourage this process), sometimes I wonder if we have taken it a step too far.
I can honestly say that within the past 10 years or so I’ve seen more Church bashing from within than from outsiders. There will always be the nonbelievers, the nay-sayers, the opposed, but my question is, have we gone too far in joining them in the jeers and jabs toward the beloved Church?
I really don’t know what the answer is, or the proper formula for walking the tightrope of criticism and critique in this matter.
Sure, I think God often looks upon us and the ways the Church has acted with his head in his hands saying to himself, “That’s not what I meant,” all the while the Church believes they are acting out of Biblical principles and not making matters worse.
What I do know is Christ LOVES His Church. He DIED for His Church. He is in a jealous pursuit for His Church; so much so that He calls his Church His bride.
So, amidst all of the name calling and finger pointing, somewhere along the lines I picture Christ saying, “now wait a minute, don’t talk about my bride like that!”
And if that is the proper stance, to side with Christ in defense of His beloved Bride, I’d like to use these pages to celebrate and commend what She has done for me.
I have grown up with Her. I have seen what She has done to serve and honor her Husband. I have seen Her put in long hours, volunteer Her time, make meals for the needy, train up children in the Way, visit the sick in the hospital and the prisoner in the jail cell.
I have seen Her move to foreign lands, sacrificing friends, family, careers and possessions to spread the Good News of Her beloved Bridegroom.
I have seen Her lay hands on the sick, the broken, the downtrodden, and, by the power of her Father, heal bones, diseases, and broken hearts.
I have seen Her give out of the overflow of Her heart rather than the limit of Her change purse.
I have seen Her love the “unlovable,” comfort the mourning, and encourage the downtrodden.
Being surrounded by the Bride on multiple occasions and seasons throughout my own life, I have seen Her Christ-like love and friendship. She has driven to meet me at three o'clock in the morning, when I was at my lowest. She's brought me meals, hugs, and care packages when I was sick and in need. She has come quickly to my aid to pray over me in important circumstances, in hurting circumstances, and in times of confusion.
She has offered Her wisdom and advice and been an encourager when I felt so lost.
She has dropped everything that occupies her time on a daily basis, be it work, school, family, chores, obligations, deadlines – anything, to come quickly to my aid and be the friend I needed most.
She has given financially when I was in need, sent flowers when I needed cheering up, sent a text, a card, an encouraging Facebook message when the Spirit prompted Her that I needed to hear a scripture, a kind word, or simply to make me feel supported.
She has donated her talents to Her Bridegroom’s cause and the purpose He has placed in His follower’s hearts so that their mission might be fulfilled.
I have seen Her take the time to teach a child a scripture verse or a song or how to pray when she had a long day and the last thing she felt like doing was pouring into someone else.
So, it is for this reason that God gave me the melody and the words to a song on my latest album called, What A Beautiful Bride, a song that takes notice of the beauty that is the Church and celebrates Her instead of condemns Her.
When I wrote this song, I pictured some very specific individuals in my church and circle of friends who have been the best example of the Bride of Christ in my life.
No matter your views or issues with the Church, it is my hope that when you listen, you begin to see the Church through Christ’s eyes, seeing, not the old wounds from your past, but rather the faces of the people in the body of Christ who have loved you better than anyone before.