God loves the Church. God also loves the World. when the Church neglects the World, God is disappointed. when the World rejects the Church, He is not surprised.
the Church is my mother. she nursed me from when i was just a babe and she taught me as best she could. the Church is where i learned of frailty. the Church is where i learned of my deep need for God. the Church is where i discovered pride. the Church taught me the Word of God. the Church taught me the law. the Church told me i needed a Savior. the Church outsourced me to inspirational self-help books, charity organizations, and the Holy Spirit. the Church instilled in me the importance of fellowship and accountability and then ostracized me without a single conversation. even still, i love her deeply.
the Church is my mother. she has her favorites. she’s busy in the kitchen, avoiding the “living” room. sometimes she’s the hit of the party, all smiles and hips swinging, avoiding the tasks assigned. she has high hopes for me, but is overwhelmed by my need. she lets me leave, relieved that i am no longer her responsibility, somewhat saddened that she was unable to fix me. the Church is torn… wanting to see redemption, but not willing to give up all that she has dreamt and manufactured. she took the path of good intentions and ended up a million miles from home. even still, i love her deeply.
the Church is a bride in waiting. the Church is a fiance in preparation. the Church has fired the wedding planner and burned bridges with the chosen wedding party. the bride has taken on the production of the ceremony and neglected that which makes it sacred. she has lost sight of the Groom. but it can be regained. hope is not lost. the Groom loves deeply. the Groom loves without repentance. and beneath her insecurity lives the bride He envisioned… a bride with a heart soft like His, a generous bride, a strong bride, a diligent bride, a healthy bride… clothed in a beautiful white gown, without spot or wrinkle, without brand name or corporate affiliation.
He is patient. He is good. He is forgiving. He is tender towards His bride. He hasn’t given up on the Church and neither should we. i have determined to love her deeply.
*[the term Church is used here in reference to the Western Church. this is in no way directly pointing to any specific local church.]