Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it (Ephesians 5:25, KJV)
Ever met someone who said something in the line of “ I love Jesus but I just cannot stand Church people?” Or maybe you have felt this way before, or possibly still feel this way about some fellow believers. There might be some of you reading this devotional who might have been deeply offended by a fellow Christian in the church milieu. We wished this would never happen, but it does occur, and it continues to do so every single day.
What does the Lord think about this paradoxical situation that happens daily amongst His people? Let me use a simple illustration to show you how the He taught me a lesson about His Bride. I have been married for 4 years now, and my wife is my crown and joy from heaven. I do not expect her to be perfect as an angel just as I am not. I want you to imagine a very close friend of mine who has had some unpleasant experiences or misunderstanding with my wife who comes to me and says “ Patrick, I really cherish our friendship and we are indeed buddies for life. However, I just cannot stand your wife. I want us to build our relationship even stronger but keep your wife out of it ”.What do you think my response will be? That comment will be the end of our friendship. You cannot love me as a friend and hate my wife, no matter the reasons. This is how Jesus feels about Christians who say they love Him and hate “church people,” even for “valid reasons.” The Church is the Bride of Christ.
One reality which we should hide deep in our hearts is that the church is not made up of angels, but broken people who were saved and are being perfected. True Christians will someday hurt you, be it the average Christian on the pew or the minister on the pulpit. Some make the error of being so offended at the Church or leaving the Church community altogether because of a truly terrible experience they have had. Yes, I agree it is a tight corner. However, we must know that the Church, including you and me, with all our weaknesses, is the Bride and the passion of Christ. Standing against the Church in any way is fighting against Christ Himself. Learn to bear the weaknesses of fellow believers, just as Christ is putting up with yours every day. In the mind of Christ, it is not possible to love Him and hate His wife—“Church people”. If you love Jesus, you will love His people, even with all the baggage they carry.
Have you been hurt by a brother or sister in Church or even a minister? What was your response? How would you respond today?
APPLY THE WORD
Cherish the Bride of Christ. Pray that the Lord will guide you to a local Church that He has designed for you to grow in because not every Church is for you. If you find yourself in the wrong local Church or with the wrong pastor that the Spirit did not send you there, your problems will be multiplied. Choosing a Church is not just a carnal decision but a Spirit-directed venture because He knows what assembly is best for you. Whatever the case, learn to cherish the Church as Jesus does. Learn to bear the weaknesses of other believers, while keeping your guard against false brethren and ministers.
Ask the Lord not help you never to become a cause of division, strife or trouble amongst His people.