The Long Walk of Love in Our Church Family
I was fortunate to grow up in a church family, and it was years before I knew we weren’t practically perfect. My Sunday School teachers loved me with all of their heart, and corrected my childish behavior with grace. There were big-time events like Vacation Bible School, Christmas Pageants, and a community outreach with a Christian weight lifter known as the “strongest man in the world!” Don’t get me wrong. I knew there were people in our church who sometimes did and said the wrong things. It’s just that at the time it would have been difficult for me to understand why anyone wouldn’t want to be a part of any church, and in particular our congregation.
Somewhere along the way I was enlightened. I learned the church has some significant flaws and there are quite a few people in the world who don’t want anything to do with her. I also discovered it wouldn’t really matter to some whether the church was perfect or not, because they had chosen to live without Christ. In addition, a smaller but very vocal number made it their ambition to defame the Lord and despise His people.
We have already acknowledged there is just cause for people to think badly of the church. As believers, we should be cognizant of this fact and work hard to challenge these perceptions with a better testimony.
Yet, at some point we need to reclaim our self-image and stop abasing ourselves at the expense of the cross. While the Bride can look disheveled, she is still the one for whom Christ died, that she might appear before the throne of His Father holy and blameless. She is filled with His Holy Spirit and represents the souls of millions who have found redemption through the blood of Jesus.
I come from a long line of bride lovers. My grandmother had a few faults, and frequently tested my grandfather’s patience. For example, she took forever to get ready in the morning, and since she was my grandfather’s personal secretary her tardiness made us all late for work. I would sit quietly in the back seat while my grandfather fretted and fumed, started the car and blew the horn. He and my grandmother would have words when she finally slid into the passenger seat, but in spite of this annoying habit it was clear no one else could speak badly of her: ever. She was, after all, the bride. The same thing was true of my mother (although, since she will be reading this I will say I can’t, for the life of me, remember any of her faults). My father simply wouldn’t allow anyone to criticize her: ever. I have the same attitude about my bride. She is my life’s mate of over thirty-two years, the mother of our children, and a servant of the Lord. She is the bride, and I want her to be praised: always.
Christ’s Bride deserves nothing less. As well, when we hold her in high esteem, we show regard to our own person, and we see ourselves as Christ sees us. We boast, not in our own beauty, but in the wondrous cross and the transformation we have experienced as Christ’s blood has sprinkled our hearts clean.