A friend asked recently, do you have a book on Christ's love for the church? She is a pastor's spouse who is feeling deep ambivalence about her husband's ministry having experienced deep pain - inflicted by - yes - churches they have served.

She was looking for some reinforcement that Christ does in fact love His bride because her experience with the bride has been very painful and there are days that her love for the bride borders on something less than love.

It is deeply ironic that all to often the church which is here only because of the pure, unrelenting, grace filled and mercy bathed love of Jesus is a place of pain, hurt, dysfunction and sometimes actual abuse of those who are a part of it. Explaining this away with a casual "we live in a fallen world," while true, is a poor excuse since the body of Christ is a redeemed people who are supposed to look like Christ - exuding like him that pure, unrelenting, grace filled and mercy bathed love toward one another.

In his high priestly prayer of John 17, Jesus prays that those who believe in Him "may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me." "May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me, and have loved them even as you have love me."

Our love and unity, according to Christ is the proof of His divinity. That is what He says. If that is true, then the corollary is also true: our disunity and our lack of love communicates that He is not indeed God. Love and unity in the church breeds faith in those who see it. Lack of love and disunity in the church breed atheism in those who see it. One is proof of His divinity, the other effectively denies his divinity. One reflects Christ and the other denies Christ.

How many churches reflect Christ? How many deny Him?

I have the privilege and opportunity to visit many churches. When I walk into some of them the welcoming, grace filled and loving culture is evident from the time I enter till the time I leave. There is a transparency among people, a felt unity and a highly engaged worship service - which happens when there is unity.

Others are cold, sterile, formal, non-transparent, filled with politics and congregations that are unresponsive when I speak (OK, maybe it is my preaching). Which of these kinds of churches is likely to attract people? Which is likely to be on that causes people pain? It is not hard to figure out.

I am not down on the church. Those that act like the Bride that they are are wonderful communities to be a part of because they reflect the grace, love and relationships of the who died for her. Those that don't act like the bride - they hurt people and they hurt Christ and they give His Bride a bad name.

I wish my friend did not need to find a book on Christ's love for the church. I wish the church so demonstrated His love, mercy, grace and character that it would be enough proof of His divine presence and power.
  • Jul 07, 2013
  • Category: News
  • Comments: 0
Leave a comment