Friday, January 9

To Love His Bride

Gandhi is perhaps one of the most often quoted men when one desires to point out the hypocrisy of Christians.  You've no doubt heard or read his statement, "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."  It oft tweeted, posted as a facebook status, and used by believers and unbelievers alike.

I have often wondered what makes Christ followers give validity to a statement about Christ by a man who not only did not follow Him but saw salvation of his own creation.  Had Gandhi known Christ in His fullness, I think his statements regarding Him would surely have been different.  This God in man flesh who said he came to drive a sword (Matt. 10:34) would not have attracted Gandhi nor would Christ's statements to those who thought that eternal rewards were reaped by the quality of life lived here on earth, a belief common to both Hindus and the Pharisaical crowds.

But what does all this have to do with loving the Bride of Christ? A barb in the flesh statement like this, whether self inflicted or inflicted on others,  is far from the mind of Christ toward His Bride, far from the passionate, sacrificial love He gives her and it ought to be far from our minds as well.

When I've written about church before, "church" being another name for The Bride or the gatherings of our fellow believers whether grouped in homes, modern churches or ancient cathedrals, I've heard stories of incredible pain experienced in those settings, done by people all claiming to be followers of Christ.  Personally, I've attended the same church since I was two years old and feel like a walking encyclopedia of our church's history, the good and the bad, the memorable and the stuff we'd all wish to un-remember, if that were only possible. This isn't an article about healthy and unhealthy churches, though that is a great and needed conversation to have, it is about the assumption that we can love God, hi-five Jesus, but not love one another in our mutual sin.

I once heard a man grumble, "That church is full of hypocrites!" and I wanted to shout, "Wonderful!  Isn't that the type of folk a church should be full of?  Sinners who recognize their need for amazing grace?  He came for the sick and not the well, right?"
Right?  Can we believe this truth and still quote Gandhi?

Those hypocrites, I am one as well.  I know what to do and I don't do it!  Every single day this happens in my life! I am unlike the Christ I follow in so many ways that it frustrates me to no end! However, I can trust that He who began the hard work of dealing with my hard-headed self and doing good work in me will keep on keeping on. Paul had this same hypocritical struggle as well several millennia ago (Romans 7) and the darndest thing is we still name churches and children after him but will curse our fellow man for struggling like Paul struggled.

I am a mom of many and so I can type out my next statement with utter assurance at its truth.
Not everyone sins the same way but everyone sins in some way.  Also just as true is that just as some children are not as talented at hiding their sin and have that knack for getting under your skin, so it goes with us believers.  The sweet Grandma who brings brownies to the bake sale needs Jesus just as well as the man sipping from his brown bag during the sermon because needing Jesus isn't measured on a scale of how bad our sinning is or how good we're being.

My husband has often told me that there is nothing new under the sun and that history repeats itself and when I read all the words that were written in the new testament and see just how many of them (it is a lot) were written to believers about loving each other and getting along with one another I have to agree.
"If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?  And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers." I John 4

Trust me, I get it.  It is hard.  HARD.  There was a season that I cried every weekend because it meant going to church.  I would cry and plead with God to give me His love for His church, a love that would bear the insults, forgive the hurts, turn the other cheek and not hurt back, sacrifice my comfort and preferences, and shoulder on through difficult relationship times because I realize that is exactly what He does for me.

We love each other because He first loved us, my friends.  It will not always be the warm and fuzzy sensation our society calls love but it will be the kind of sacrificial, agape love that requires nothing but is willing to give everything that will identify us with Christ. 


Momma Bug said...

Thanks Friend.


Anonymous said...

Very good reminders....thank you! I'm struggling with what my job is each Sunday. I am a mother of 6, but also help lead worship and teach Sunday School, so Sundays are usually kind of a tiring day for me. Lately, I've been asked to take on a couple more things, and I'm just sure I can't at this point in time. I know going to church isn't all about me, but I'm not sure I can healthfully fit in another thing. :( I honestly don't get real excited about Sundays, but as one man told me recently....once I got saved, it wasn't about me anymore. So, I've been trying to go with the mindset to encourage and reach out to others. Any other helpful tidbits from anyone? It would be kind of nice to look forward to it again. :) Blessings! Jamie

Tonya Gunn said...

Thank you so much for this post - so excellent. For so long I resisted formal church - we went but I had such a hard time with reconciling all of the hypocrisy and then more recently I have realized that we are all sinners and that the church is important in God's plan for Christianity and Christians no matter how broken it is.
Anyway, your wrote it beautifully.

Joyo said...

I have been following your blog for many years, and am a practicing Buddhist. I find your pictures and homemaking lovely--I too am a homemaker, and I work with severely disabled children part-time while my own children are at school.

However, your thoughts on Ghandi are offensive. For you to say this man did not know Christ is wrong. Who are you to judge anyone? Ghandi devoted his entire life to peace, and eventually died because of it. You are entitled to having your own religious path, but it is off putting that you include criticizing others just because it is different than yours. In fact, it's disrespectful towards all the Buddhist, Hindus, Catholics etc. etc. who love and serve others their entire lives. I am one of them for it is my Buddhist path that inspires me to love and help others, including the disabled children that I take care of.

How would you feel if I posted a comment to you, insulting your beliefs about Jesus, and telling you they are all wrong, sinful, wordly etc. etc. ---when your beliefs (just like mine) are held so dearly to your heart?

After many years of following you, and being inspired by you, I think it is time for me to move on.

Gassho, and much metta to you and your family. Good-bye

Julian said...

Thankyou. I have recently been there. Beautiful words of truth. Love eachother. We all have struggles. We all need Jesus. What a beautiful Example we have.

Me said...

Hello, Jamie,
I don't know do it all s I don't know if I can give you any good advice, other than, make sure your spirit is getting fed each week. I stopped church volunteering a few babies ago because the stress was of no help to my family and still, with babies, I miss a lot of the service. Listening to the Bible on my phone in the morning, listening to sermons and podcasts online, have been of a great encouragement to me. I also see the importance of community among believing women. I am so thankful for my group of mom friends. We are from different churches (mostly) and backgrounds but all love Jesus and they are a great encouragement to my life.

Me said...

Hi, Joyo,
I definitely mean no detriment to the life work of Ghandi (and don't see tat I discredited his work in any way, just sharing a contrary viewpoint to his on my religion) :) but on the topic of religious diversity, to say that Hinduism and Christianity are the same, or not mutually exclusive (which they are) is a mistake. Here is a quick summary of their differences, by a Catholic website (winky eye).
Blessings to you and if you have any further questions I'd love to communicate via email. Mine is hannahhagarty at yahoo dot com.