By Guest Blogger
… Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her …
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it,
just as the Lord does the church.
For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.
When I think and talk about the church, so often I begin with what pleases me. I consider my preferences, see the faults, remember the disappointments, examine the scars from past hurts, and shake my head over the failings I’ve encountered. And I conclude that the church isn’t really my cup of tea. It’s not that I have a problem with Jesus; it’s just the church that doesn’t suit me.
But when I think and talk about the church in this way, I’m thinking and talking about the body of Christ, bought at immense cost, nourished and cherished, dearly loved, precious to Him.
God ordained the church local as the means for my growth, edification, sanctification. Do I really think He didn’t anticipate that our preferences would not always align and that we would sin against each other? It’s true; commitment to a local fellowship of believers exposes me to the sins of others.
But it also shows me my own sin; challenging my pride, reminding me of my continual need for God’s mercy, and causing me to rejoice in God’s forgiveness. The very things I would prefer to avoid are the things God will use to conform me to the image of His Son.
The enemy hates the church and is determined to destroy her. No doubt he is pleased when I insist on having my own way, or criticise, or stay away.
But Christ …
… loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish -