If The Church Were A Spouse, She Would Be An Abuse Victim: So Quit Picking On Her and Do Something About It

 

Are we all done bad-mouthing the church yet?

I know she isn’t perfect, but that’s the sort of pressure we put on her. If the church was a Christian’s spouse, she would’ve entered therapy and an abuse shelter a long time ago. There would be criminal charges and a talk show interview.

God still loves the church. She is God’s idea.

God still manifests His own perfection through imperfect people — and occasionally, we get it right.

It’s much more glorious when God is seen through such a mess. His strength is really made perfect in weakness. We hardly hear about this though because both Christians and the media circus won’t stop beating her up.

 

It’s easy to hide behind the wall of a blog and toss critic-grenades at the state of ministry.  Everyone has their opinion for “What is wrong with church today.”  Yes, doctrine is in trouble. Yes, baptisms are down. Yes, the culture shuns us. Yes, we have become an entertainment center. We could write things like this in our sleep.

I think if we spent even half that energy on our knees in prayer, door to door with our neighbors, down the street at the homeless shelter, in our privacy with Scripture, and knee-deep with broken people — we would probably look like the church in Acts 2:42-47, where people laughed and ate and listened and read God’s Word with great joy. No one was working an angle to build a platform for their voice.

Now if you read that previous paragraph and nodded, the truth is: Many local churches are doing exactly this.  There are still many good churches surviving as the remnant people of Christ, not perfectly, but passionately, with all sincerity — and we hate on them too.

We don’t recognize them enough. It’s not vanity to celebrate those moments of God-infused greatness. We can’t presume the church stinks simply because of a few (very) bad apples. There are certainly impostors, but the church is still a powerful force for good in the universe. She deserves at least this much credit.  Our eyes just refuse to open.

 

I’m probably undermining the point by criticizing the criticism. Really though, I just grieve for our treatment of the bride. She can be a beautiful, wonderful, exuberant beacon of healing and laughter, and I still have hope for her, because God does.

Jesus commissioned the church upon the foundation of himself, and anything empowered by no less than the resurrection of the Son of God is a supernatural power capable of breaking our everyday fallen reality. She is the portal to Heaven, opening up the sky with instruments of grace and transformation — and she is you and me, the body of Christ, bound by a Spirit that does the impossible.

I pray we still believe that.

I will love the church, just as Christ loved her and gave his life for her.

— J.S.

17 thoughts on “If The Church Were A Spouse, She Would Be An Abuse Victim: So Quit Picking On Her and Do Something About It

  1. I appreciated, “It’s much more glorious when God is seen through such a mess.” This is what the church is about, giving glory to God, pointing the world to Him. I once heard it said, “This is a little edgy. The Church is a whore but she is your mother.”

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  2. I think the Christians criticizing the church forget the reason why 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians were written. The world will always find reasons to criticize the church. I love what you said, “God still manifests his perfection through imperfect people–and occasionally, we get it right.” Amen!! God loves his Church. And so do I!

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  3. Such excellent points- out DOING instead of mumbling and complaining! Whata great reminder, and very encouraging!
    It must be added that the talk show would probably have been Jerry Springer lol

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  4. The Church is the Bride of Christ, and there is only ONE. All believers are members of that Church. There are also congregations, usually who have a building. Some of them live a corporate mission and serve faithfully. some become a club, or isolated from the world or keep busy never doing God’s mission. They are agents of what i call religion. The greater the structure the greater the disconnect with Jesus.
    Religion, like the kings of the Old Testament, get lost in their power, and the politics and winning. So the prophets came along and called them back to the centre of the universe – God. Sometimes the kings listened (like King David) and some didn’t (like King Ahab). When a part of the Church becomes religious (in my terms) it needs to be called back. When A congregation remains a part of the Church God’s work is getting done.
    Criticism of the Body of Christ is infinitely dangerous! Criticism of religion is desperately needed.
    The reason I go on is that religion claims it is the church and makes it look like they are one and the same, but if that was really true why did Jesus spend so much time and so many words criticizing religion (Pharisees, Sadducees, the economics of the Jerusalem Temple…)? Why was it religion’s leaders who plotted the murder of Jesus when the poor and outcast sang “Hosanna”?
    i will always defend the Church, but I will never defend a structure or denomination or religion or head office power.
    i hope that makes sense, and is clear I agree with you about the Church.
    Peace

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    1. Yes, I believe our criticism can easily “lump” together the good with the bad, so that we confuse the Body of Christ with religion. As you said, those kinds of distinctions are necessary, or we could be short-circuiting the message of Christ right along with our critiques.

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  5. And if the Bride is the community of believers made up of individual people … then I left the 4-walls to find shelter. No one has ever abused me personally more than people inside church buildings. This is not a criticism of the Bride, but a criticism of the organization. I don’t believe the Church (Bride of Christ) has any relationship whatever to the church (buildings where services take place). My shelter has become the community of believers I participate with of outside the 4-walls.

    It is my hope that one day these two entities will merge into one, and I agree that a precious few have found a way to do this (somewhat). But as a whole, the church is quite abusive of the Church.

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    1. I’m sorry that’s happened to you. I remember you mentioned it here and there before.

      I’d have to add that sometimes the Bride and the “building” are mixed in, so it’s a little more blended than at first glance. I really hate to say that all church-attenders in a building are bad, or that there can’t be the true Bride in there (I’m not saying this is what you mean!). In fact, mostly I’ve been hurt by only a handful of people inside churches when the rest were totally fine. But again, I’m sorry for what you had to go through.

      Also, I hope you update your blog soon 🙂

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      1. Thanks, J.S., yes, I had this conversation recently and realized that I did not make myself very clear on my response to your blog. I think that most of the abuse I have suffered has come FROM leadership and then from certain people directed at me IN leadership (I’ve been on both ends), but I certainly did NOT mean to imply that the entirety of people in the building are abusive; rather, my implication was that many people still in the building are still being abused! Thanks for letting me clarify.

        As to updating the blog … God has me involved in some other things right now, but I’ve been messing around with turning my current activity into a blog. 🙂 We’ll see what happens. God bless!

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        1. Thanks! I didn’t mean to imply your motives and over-read into you. It’s true that church abuse is so rampant, and I think even the best churches will come across it once in a while (which still does not make it okay).

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  6. My hubby and I are blessed to be part of an “organized” body of believers. At the annual appreciation dinner, eighty percent of the congregants are invited because they’re involved in ministry. Like I said, “blessed.”

    When I realized that I was abusing Jesus’ bride, telling Him, “I love You – but can’t stand Your espoused,” I knew that my heart needed an overhaul. He’s been working on that bit of me, and now I see the difference between the religious and those in relationship with the Lord. My heart breaks for the religious. The words, “Depart from Me; I NEVER knew you,” haunt me. We must reach out to them.

    \o/

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    1. Eighty percent is awesome. It’s always a blessing to hear good news like that. Plus an appreciation dinner? Double awesome.

      I do believe there is a little bit of “religious” in all of us, and I think the second we begin to distinguish between “those religious people” and “me,” then we’ve entered into religion. It’s always a tricky slope and I’m sure Satan is laughing his butt off. Thank God for God then, who massively uppercuts our hearts.

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