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Archive for the ‘Building & Bride’ Category

There’s a lot of cynicism about the Church today.  And while I am stimulated by argument, by addressing something I identify as wrong, I don’t think of myself as a cynic.  Rather, this confrontation with status-quo is inherently hopeful.  I invest energy because I think Church could be better.

Before I left my last church, a few people were leaving slowly.  And my friends who were staying, they wondered why.  “There’s no such thing as a perfect church,” they argued.  “So why search for another kind of bad?”  Which reasoning rather baffled me.  What were they praying for?  Why did they do anything in the Church?  Didn’t they believe our community could be better?  And if we can get better, isn’t it possible that something better already exists?

Now, there may be other arguments for hanging around a church that is not as close to perfect as you hope.  But to say that leaving a church is for people with unrealistic expectations is silly.  Whatever your choice, your reason for staying should be the same as your reason for leaving: hope.  If you stay, be hoping to see God grow your church to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.  If you go, may it be because you hope that God has more designed for the Church than the divided and sterile institution you’re leaving.

I didn’t leave the institutional church in despair.  There was hurt and disappointment over the group of people I had been congregating with.  But there was joy over the release God had given me – not release from fellowship or love or truth, but release from schedules and structures and enduring a view of Church that I no longer believe.  I went out looking for people of God doing life together, praying together, participating together in teaching and worship and celebrating Communion.  My search has been for a high view of our Bridegroom as the Head of His Church, of a supernatural (but orderly) view of the Spirit of our God as He orchestrates lives and relationships and meetings.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.  And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.  But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” – Hebrews 11:13-16

I am persuaded that there is something better than what I have experienced.  And I will desire it and pursue it.  The things I write here on ChurchMoot really excite me.  What I read in the Bible about Church excites me.  The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church.  Christ is purifying and strengthening His gloriously beautiful Church.  He’s preparing a place for us.  There are visions of unity and purpose and power.  A joy in knowing that we believe in, serve, and wait on an Almighty and Good God.

What’s more, I have hope that the people of God are being awakened to the biblical descriptions of Church.  Now when people realize church is broken, they’re seeking answers from God, and acting on them!  No longer will they betray the Body of Christ by their silence, by their tacit approval, by being accomplices.  They don’t want the world to think that what it calls Church is the ideal Beloved Bride of a Radiant Savior.  He purified for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works!  They want the world to see a light set on a lampstand, not some pitiful ember fading into darkness.

We are not a cult.  We are the Redeemed.  Joyful.  Saying so.  Hopeful.  Believing it is our God who builds His Church.  Waiting for our Messiah to come back – begging Him to come quickly!  We are loving, caring for each other, not afraid to weep or to rejoice.  The God who created the universe, the Spirit who raised Christ from the dead, indwells us.  He speaks through us, comforts us, guides and instructs us.  The same God who rattled the Early Church prayer meetings with mighty rushing wind is among us.  Let that be known.  Let it be proclaimed.  Don’t contain it in schedules and corporate models.  Joy might be practiced, but not rehearsed!  Truth should be so familiar that it can be ad-libbed.  We share in a life that is saturated with God, with no distinction between the times when we are doing ordinary work and when we are worshiping.

God called His people to abundant life, life in Him.  My hope for the Church is that we embrace it.

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Etymology of glad:

O.E. glæd “bright, shining, joyous,” from P.Gmc. *glathaz (cf. O.N. glaðr “smooth, bright, glad,” O.Fris. gled, Du. glad “slippery,” Ger. glatt “smooth”), from PIE *ghledho- “bright, smooth” (cf. L. glaber “smooth, bald,” O.C.S. gladuku, Lith. glodus “smooth”), from PIE base *ghlei- “to shine, glitter, glow, be warm” (see gleam).

This weekend I’m glad. Gladness has been a theme. Friday night I attended a ladies retreat through my church where we had lessons focusing us on God and preparing our hearts for spending most of the day alone with God on Saturday. On Friday we worshiped. A song came to mind, We Will Dance, by David Ruis. If you click the link and read the lyrics, can’t you just envision the glad Bridegroom, Great King of Kings, dancing at His wedding feast with the thousands of people who make up His bride?

Saturday was spent, then, for me, focusing on the relationship of Christ and the Church as Groom and Bride. I don’t know how much you have thought about this or studied it. Recently I’ve become more aware of the betrothal connotations of the Lord’s Supper, of the promises in John 14:2-3, and of course the direct references like that in Revelation 19.

Picture a man engaged to a woman who is far away. He calls her on the phone and reassures her of his love. He sends her gifts. They share delight in their love. She renews her resolve to be the most deserving bride she can be. They spend time building the relationship. And there is the anticipation of the wedding that makes them almost giddy. Closing her eyes, the bride-to-be can envision her Beloved celebrating at the feast. Ah, the dancing and singing and glad shouts. How she will glow!

So, translating those things spiritually, that’s what I did on Saturday. Scripture testifies mightily of God’s love for us. It challenges us to faithfulness and pure living. Books especially of prophecy provide us with inspiration and hope by painting pictures of the victory and fulfillment and restoration at the End. And then there is praise for the incredible, unspeakably undeserved love God lavishes on us.

Today in church people said I seemed to shine. Moses shone after he’d been with God. Can you really see it?

Be glad. Be with God. Shine.

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