Friday, April 25, 2008

The Bride

That the church might be the Bride!

I sometimes lose sleep because I'm talking about this. I wonder if I'm crazy. Because I keep dreaming, envisioning - I have this burning flame in my chest, this passion that deepens and saturates me more every day.

I love the Bride of Christ.

But right now, in America, there is a lot wrong with her. It's like cancer in an arm... and it's spreading.

Middle class mediocrity - a peculiar brand of materialism that is never quite satisfied but is nonetheless somehow contented with "good enough." Lethargy and complacency. Leniency with sin. Hesitancy with truth.

Because it's comfortable. It's safe. And - they think - it's good business.

I cannot express the anger, the frustration, the sorrow that rises in me when I see the church act like a corporation, pastors functioning more as CEOs than shepherds, ministries thinking like business ventures.

I long to see the church live in real fellowship, deep community where people love each other, where relationships are true and meaningful because they penetrate to the very nature of who people are. I long to see the church have real accountability, people seeing each other's struggles and starting with prayer for each other, then helping each other.

Sometimes my heart aches because "youth ministries" and "college ministries" and "children's ministries" get in the way of true discipleship. A friend of mine once pointed out that the Bible only has one word for "children's minister" - father. I hunger for churches where the focus is on discipling families all together, drawing fathers and mothers after Christ so they may draw their children after them - where older couples can mentor younger couples and people in the same stage can support and understand each other; where children play together their whole lives and know each other deeply and truly; where every family knows each other - where the young catch a vision because their elders are living it out.

I dream of a church where the Great Commission and social work and life are all one and the same, all the time. Where it is common for people to bring their friends who are unbelievers to be in the company of believers. Where missionality is not a buzzword but a way of life. Where serving the community is normal, because that's what Christ did and called us to do. Where every aspect of life is reflective of Christ - including our response when we fail.

I hunger for "worship services" that are all about the worth of Christ. That are not about our own needs being met - though they will - but are instead about ascribing Him the glory that He is due, and about serving one another as we serve Christ. There can be praise offered that ranges from the simple chorus to the lengthy hymn, and all of it properly focused on the glory of Christ - whether lament and prayer for aid, or cry of thanksgiving, or shout of praise, or quiet meditation on the character of God, all of it offered both with the depth of intimacy of calling the Father "Daddy" and approaching with reverence and awe.

The Church is Christ's. I dream of seeing the church in America awaken to that reality and set her eyes no more on the lies this world offers. Oh, how glorious that day, when the millions open their eyes to see how much better Christ than every created thing: how much less that which has been made than its Maker, and the more so as it has been subjected to futility! How grand it will be when she at last it fixated on the glory of Christ as her one chief end - and all else be nothing in comparison. Oh the longing for the day when as one we proclaim that we have counted everything as rubbish and refuse compared to the all-surpassing glory of knowing Christ - our Lord, our Savior, our God and King!

I dream of heaven. But the kingdom of heaven is come - not yet in its fullness, but it is come, for the Holy Spirit is at work bringing it in the hearts of men. Everlasting life begins not when we die but the moment we first begin to live - when the Spirit breathes in us life and faith and through the blood of Christ sets us free from sin and death and to a life with abundance, beyond all we could ask or think, greater than any mind has imagined.

Is it folly? To be certain, it is! Yet it must be, because the wisdom of God is foolishness to man. I will then be foolish all the more in the eyes of the world, for the wisdom of men is demonic, false, evil. The wisdom of God is to be prized.

Christ calls... I will follow. And I will not cease to dream.

But it is not enough to dream.

It is enough to obey.

What lies ahead? I cannot say. Only this do I know: that the Only True God has a purpose for each and every life, and if I may be a part in awakening even a few hearts to the glory of His way; if I may be but the smallest part in calling the church to be the church, then it is more than enough for one lifetime.

For His glory!

- Chris

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