Monthly Archives: August 2012

Your Bride Is Ugly

I keep bumping into this sentiment lately: “I like God, but I can’t stand the church.”  Or, “I’ll take Jesus, but I can do without Christians.”  It seems like even folks who claim the faith are taking their shots at the church.  Criticisms range from the church being too involved in politics to being irrelevant, from Christians being judgmental to not knowing what they believe.  Some people have decided that they are no longer going to call themselves “Christians” because it carries too much baggage.  “Christ-follower” is much more vogue and it gives one the option of following Jesus without being part of the church.

I wonder how that makes Jesus feel.  I think those comments are a kin to going to a bridegroom and telling him, “Dude I like you, but your bride is ugly.”  Honestly, how long do you think you are going to be friends?  Can you continue to have a relationship with the bridegroom and disparage the bride?  Do you think you are still going to get an invitation to the wedding reception?

I do not think that the church is above criticism.  In fact, when the bride is unfaithful to the bridegroom she needs to be corrected.  The Scripture is clear that judgment begins with the house of God. (1 Peter 4:17.)  But who is entitled to do the judging?  And to what standard is she being measured?  If the standard is other than the Word of God, then it is, at best, a distraction and, at worse, an idol.

Is there another institution that has done more to lift humanity out of the slim of history than the church?  Has government done more to restore the dignity of humanity to the elderly, the poor, the unborn?  Does Madison Avenue preach a message that gives people hope and peace?  Has technology been able to restore broken relationships, especially a relationship with God?  Can forgiveness be purchased on Wall Street?  Perhaps a little tolerance could be extended for poor coffee and hokey movies.

So why the hostility towards Christians and the church?  R.C. Sproul writes in The Holiness of God, “People have an appreciation for moral excellence, as long as it is removed a safe distance from them.  The Jews honored the prophets, from a distance.  The world honors Christ, from a distance.” (pg. 71)  Two thousand years later it is easy to admire Jesus, but get close to Him and you might find out why the prophets were killed and He was crucified.  The closer He gets the more our unholiness is revealed.  Sproul continues, “They feel crowded by holiness, even if it is made present only by an imperfect, partially sanctified human vessel.” (pg.82). Imperfect, partially sanctified human vessel is a pretty good description of the church.

Yet, the Church is the bride of Christ.  She is not perfect (not yet anyway), but He is the one who has called her.  Jesus purchased her with His own blood.  He washed her in His Word.  Jesus is preparing a place for her at this moment for eternity.  And Jesus is anxious to return and get her so that she can be with Him.  Jesus loves the church.  The church is His creation.  He will make her holy and pure in His time. 

The church has issues, no doubt.  However, Christians should be a bit more careful before throwing her to the curb the way the world does.  For there is coming a day (sorry, I don’t mean to fixate on end times) when those who “love Jesus but can’t stand the church” are going to be very glad they are counted among her.

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Filed under Beliefs, Church, Marriage

Inconceivable!

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Inigo Montoya utters these great lines to Vescini as he continues to say “Inconceivable!” in one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride. I can’t help but think the same thing is going on with the word “love”.

I ate lunch today (like I do most days) at Chick-fil-A. The place was packed. It took 20 minutes from the time I ordered to the time I received my food. There was no place to stand. The line was out the door and the drive through line wrapped the building through another parking lot and spilled onto the street. Yet whenever the manager would shout her appreciation for everyone’s patience, the place cheered.

Some folks think, because of the owner’s comments about the definition of marriage, that supporting Chick-Fil-A today is hateful and discriminatory. To oppose same-sex marriage is not loving in their view. I believe they think that because they don’t know what love is.

I know – how dare I write that! Saying someone doesn’t know what love means is so…unloving. Love is a many splended thing so I will not try and give an exhaustive list of everything that is love. (I would encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 13 if you haven’t attended a wedding recently to brush up a little.)

Perhaps it might be more palatable to say, “I believe they think that because they don’t know what love isn’t.” We’ll see. Either way I am with Inigo. Love doesn’t mean what they think it means.

Love is tolerance, liberals say. Love is unconditional acceptance of whatever behavior I feel like (at least when it comes to sex but not eating at certain fast food restaurants). Love accepts people for who they are. After all, God accepts me for who I am. God is love. And that is kinda close but misses the mark.

God is love and He accepts us as we are – but He certainly doesn’t leave us that way. No loving parent accepts whatever behavior a child exhibits. While they love and accept the child, they correct the child and show them the proper behavior. Even if it is painful to them and the child. They do this BECAUSE they love the child. To accept “whatever” behavior is a clear sign, not of love, but of indifference and apathy. Yet that is what liberals mean when they say it is loving to accept behavior that God calls wrong. What they are saying (but don’t realize) is that they are more loving than God. The Bible is clear about marriage and sex. To ignore or cut out the parts of Scripture that are “offensive” and then claim to do it because they are loving is to claim they are more loving than God. They know better than God. They are more tolerant than His Word. That kind of pride and hubris ends poorly every time it is tried.

God gives us the boundaries because He loves us. It is like He is standing in the middle of the road holding a sign and screaming, “Turn around! The bridge is out!” That is love. Especially when people run Him over. And if we know the bridge is out and danger is ahead, is it more loving to say, “Stop!” or to tolerate and accept their decision to drive off the cliff?

I realize that some may think, “I guess that means we should stone to death children for disobeying their parents. Isn’t that what the Bible says to do?” It does say that, Leviticus 20:9. If you want to use that argument you should read all of chapter 20. There is plenty of stuff that requires the death penality. The truth is sin – any sin, all sin – brings the death penalty. Romans 6:23 tells us very clearly, “the wages of sin is death” and that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23) No one is righteous in God’s eyes. We’ve all sinned in some form or fashion and we all deserve to die.

“But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Because of Jesus’ death, our dealth penalty has been paid. That is love. Inconceivable love. So no, I don’t advocate fulfulling the law in Leviticus today because it has already been fulfilled in Jesus. The issue is whether or not you have received this gift of grace. If you do, you’ll experience transformation. This is the “God loves you too much to leave you the way you are” part. Romans 6 is a fantastic place to read about it.

I went back to Chick-Fil-A tonight about 9pm. The drive through line was still wrapped around the building and the wait for a milkshake was over 20 minutes. Inconceivable!

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Filed under Beliefs, Bible, Marriage, Religious Liberty