Now, for the sake of conversation (if blogging is actually considered a conversation) when I refer to the church you should know I am referring to the church as a whole. Or specifically the American church as a whole, not just the local church. Although at the end of the day, all the local churches make up the American church, so those of us in leadership of the local church definitely have our fair share of responsibility when it comes to the reputation of the church as a whole.
But y'all I am tired. Tired of being known for what we are against, instead of THE ONE WE KNOW. I am tired of watching us tear each other apart, instead of fighting for the message of Jesus' last prayer -
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them 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. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17:20 - 23
I am tired of measuring success in programs and personalities, instead of in transformation and servitude. But Jenny aren't you on staff at a "mega church?" Yes, and there is nothing wrong with mega churches (the church in Acts was by definition a mega church), as long as we are always evaluating what we are "mega" about.
Bottom line, I am tired and I don't want to do it anymore.
To the point that over the past 2 weeks, I have found myself many times saying out loud in pray to God, "What in the world are we even doing? Are You even proud of how we are representing You? Or are we royally screwing this up? This, tearing each other (and so many others) apart? I mean, I am for You Jesus but I just don't know about the church." And, in the midst of one of these rants, I remembered this:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Ephesians 5:25 - 26
And not until dealing with wanting to give up on the church, did this passage make sense to me. I have been married for almost 10 years, and my husband and I have a very deep commitment to one another, in fact, one we vowed would never be broken. I would expect for him to lay down his life for mine, and I would hope he would expect the same thing from me. And honestly I don't know that it would be that hard for either one of us, because we are deeply in love with and committed to putting one another's needs first. That does not mean that we always get along and agree on everything or that at times we don't say some pretty damaging things to each other. But it does mean, that we will never give up on each other. And even though I have disappointed, torn up, miscommunicated, lacked grace and even disrespected my husband at times over the last 10 years, I would NEVER WANT HIM TO GIVE UP ON ME!
In the same way that is how Christ feels about that church. Christ used this to illustrate a marital relationship, because He knew His love for the church could not be broken, even by His death. But, he also knew that the church was dirty and ugly and needed to be cleaned. And, when you see someone you love in that condition, you will do whatever it takes to make it right, even if it means death.
He knew that just as He had done for the church, we would need to the the same in a marriage relationship. We would have to lay down our life, our expectations, our need to be right, and anything else that stands in the way of our relationship being without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but rather holy and blameless.
And so here is my challenge to you and to me, lets start loving the church as Christ loves the church. Even when it is hard and ugly and sadly shameful. And if we can't do that, then how can we say we love Jesus. In other words, if I love Jesus then I simultaneously also have to love the church. If God's people - His very image - make up the church then I can't give up. I can't give up on Jesus. I have seen too much of Jesus to give up on Him. He is too beautiful and so is His bride.
So I am not going to give up on the church, instead I am going to lay down my judgements and my need to be right, and just love the socks off of the church. Love the church as Christ loves the church. No matter how hard it is.