“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. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the churchâ€” for we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mysteryâ€”but I am talking about Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:25-32
The church is the wife of Christ. He sacrificed his own life to redeem her. He is returning someday to claim her. According to Revelation 19:9 we all will celebrate the “Wedding supper of the Lamb” with Jesus someday and what an awesome occasion that will be!
So, in the meantime, don’t slap, mock or treat the bride of Christ with disrespect.
I remember when I first got married twenty two years ago my wife and I were with a group of her co-workers at a Christmas party. The place where we had the party was in the back room of a bar-meets-grill kind of joint. As we were leaving my wife was walking about 10 feet in front of me talking to one of her female co-workers. She didn’t notice the two guys who were eyeing her up and down as she walked by…but I did.
Without thinking or blinking I walked up to their tables as they were still learing and hit my left fist so hard on their table I made their drinks jump. Startled, they looked up at me and, before they could figure out what was going on, I barked, “Do you see this ring?” showing them the wedding ring on my clenched fist. Before they could answer I said, “You wanna see it up close?” Still not getting it I said, “That girl you were gawking at is my wife and I don’t like the way you were looking at her.”
Either of these guys could have beat the tar out of me but my bold action embarrassed and shocked them. Luckily I got out of the door before they realized they could have easily smashed me.
Why did I react like that? Because I love my wife and I will not tolerate her being treated with disrespect.
Neither will Christ.
We may have problems with the church. We may have a list of things we would like to see improved with the way church is done in the 21st Century. But we should never let our healthy evaluation of the church and her effectiveness descend into bashing the bride of Christ.
There are those today who analyze, criticize and discount the church as if she is a useless relic of the past. I have read “experts” who have said we should forsake the organized church and just have Bible studies in our homes. But a church without a team of godly shepherds leading it is not a church at all, it’s a group of rebels who have decided that they know better than God’s plan for church organizational structure (which, by the way, is clearly laid out in Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3.)
Again, this doesn’t mean that we refuse to see real faults in the church. It means that we recognize them and then jump in to try to fix them with a heart of service and love for the people of God.
We need to honor the church. She is the fire in which all of our embers stay burning white hot for Christ. She is the community in which we all live and minister to each other. She is a collection of saints from male to female, black to white and rich to poor who have one thing in common, our eternal soulmate, Jesus Christ.
Slap my wife and I’ll punch you in the throat (and ask for forgiveness later.) I cringe to think what Christ would do.
Let’s not test him.