Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Bride

There's been a lot of discussion lately about whether or not ditching Church in favor of an "It's Just Me And God" philosophy is really the wisest thing.

Pastor Lance Pittluck proposed that all the people he knew who got burned or burnt out and left Church all-together (not joined another fellowship of believers) and chose to work out their faith alone, pretty soon found themselves fading out of relationship with Christ Jesus entirely. Have you known people who walked away from the Church? What happened to them? What was their life like 10 years later?

Pastor Ray Hollenbach opened up a discussion about the same issue on his excellent blog, Students of Jesus.

And, truthfully, that kind of talk really bakes my noodle, because here's the thing.

The Bride is kind of a... you know what!

OK, I know I'm not supposed to say that, but it's true.

I've never known meaner, more horrible, more despicably cruel people than the lovely Bride of Christ. Have you? Maybe it's just me and a few friends who've shared their experiences, but those emotional and spiritual scars many of us have from head to toe... They're from the razor-sharp talons and scorching tongues of various members of that resplendent Bride. Devastating relationship explosions, betrayals, back-stabbings, slanderous gossip, intentional injuring, etc... Guess who's usually at the epicenter of such disasters?

You got it! Christians!

I bet you know what I'm talking about. And, it's safe to say that you've likely been through it a time or two as well.

Christians are rotten. Seriously, they're a horrible group of people. They make up their own rules and call it "righteousness", they condescend, lie, manipulate, condemn, form cliques, reject, cheat, steal, seek glory and fame for themselves, are full of pride, and all the while twisting Scripture to justify their actions. They use the Bible as a weapon of mass destruction. Christians shred the whoowee out of others. They're just plain mean.

What a beauty, huh?

Here's what's amazing to me... Jesus loves His Bride. He is deeply passionate about Her.

Think about that. It's crazy love. Not convinced? Read Song of Solomon.

What's more, we Christians, all of us, not just the viler and meaner ones, are still in process of being shaped and molded to better reflect our Lord. The Bride will not be fully radiant and dazzling until She stands before Him.

So, what do we do with the Church until then? What should we do with all Her horrible people, disfunction, abuse, and misrepresentation of God Himself? What should we feel about those wretched, hateful Christians (especially remembering that I am one of them)?

I have a sneaking suspicion that it's the hard answer.

I think it might be about forgiveness. Compassion. Love. I think it might be about not giving up on living in relationship and community with other believers even though we are guaranteed to get burned.

What do you think?


  1. Oh girl I could have written this post myself. Been through it, TOTALLY understand why people ditch, I was tempted to myself - I mean really who wants to be associated with that crapola? I've got enough of my own issues to deal with. Then I realized no matter how hurt I've been I still have to get back up on that horse and invest again. Open myself up to be hurt again. HE is the author and finisher of my faith and in HIM and HIM alone do I trust. Others will always fail us but if we all pull out who will demonstrate true community? Its our duty to love others and to put ourselves out there.

    Good read sister.

  2. I really think the Holy Spirit is bringing this issue to the surface all across the U.S. right now, Laurie. I don't think any of us will have the complete answer, but I am sure the Spirit wants us to move toward forgiveness more and more. Not the kind that says, "anything goes," but the kind of forgiveness that cleanses us first and then perhaps others. One commenter at my site suggested that we consider the costs of *not* being a part of the Bride, and you have highlighted that as well. Peace to all!

  3. You know my heart on this! Such a tough topic I was hesitant to comment cause it stirs up so much in me. While I have been so disappointed at times with the church, I have been very encouraged and blessed too. I think that's what keeps us coming back and hoping for more--because we have tasted the blessing and how good it can be. And certainly with specific people in the church and in the Body of Christ (YOU) I have been INSPIRED and BLESSED and LIFED UP. But all people are flawed and the institutions run by those same people will certainly be flawed, and I know I have my own issues that might grieve others, directly or indirectly, who knows. Like you say, we can only do our part, which is extending grace and forgiveness and letting go of our hurt. Hopefully others will forgive me in the same way. We are responsible to God for our part. And we may get hurt again, BUT we may not, and God errs on the side of forgiveness 70 times 7 and therefore, we should too. It is hard to do, and scary. Love you!!

  4. This goes hand in hand with another subject that keeps coming up - 'the church' asks us (the sheep) to give of our talents, giftings and abilities. I certainly don't have anything wrong with that BUT, when "we" come to the church and offer those talents, giftings and abilities we are often turned away.

    Couple that with this horrific economy (where everyone knows of people of have lost their homes, jobs, etc) and these same people are being rejected daily from potential employment - these people are getting reject twice - by potential employers and their church family.

    Why would anyone want to stay in (or come to) a place of rejection when Christ says, "Come unto me all who are weary and burdened, I shall give you rest" (Matt: 11:28), but the church says, "come and sit while I tell you why you should have hope despite the constant disappointment and rejection."

  5. Wow, Laurie, you nailed it. It makes all the talk about us being lights shining in the darkness look a little silly! I guess what you're saying is that, just as Jesus actually loves his rhymes-with-witch bride, so we have to as well, and have to associate with her, just as Jesus does - anything else is just another form of rhymes-with-witch-iness - looking down on the people who look down on us.

  6. I would have to say truthfully that since I have not been hanging out with the bride in the last 9 years or so that my relationship with God and spirit has skyrocketed!! I don't have anyone to answer to or appease other than my conscience which I believe is dictated by Him...so I may be in the minority, but I guess I am on the Emily Dickinson path to God...

    Some keep the Sabbath going to Church-
    I keep it, staying at Home-
    With a Bobolink for a Chorister-
    And an Orchard, for a Dome-
    Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice-
    I just wear my Wings-
    And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
    Our little Sexton-sings.
    God preaches, a noted Clergyman-
    And the sermon is never long,
    So instead of getting to Heaven, at least-
    I'm going, all along.

  7. One of my favorite quotes is this: "The real heathen are not outside the church, but in it." (Taken from "One Foot in Heaven" by Hartzell Spence.)

    I recently attended a women's luncheon at my church. "Kay" (not her real name) was seated at my table, along with several other women. We are all active church members. Kay had to leave early because she was on her lunch hour. As soon as she left, the other women began gossiping about her. They verbally trashed Kay and her family. Although I did not participate in the gossip, I said not a word in Kay's defense. I thought about how true James's words are, that the tongue is a thing of deadly poison. I still feel ashamed for not speaking up on Kay's behalf.


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