5 blemished Truths About The Church
While celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, both husband and wife were urged to give testimonies to gathered family and friends. He said the usual thing: “The best two words I ever learned were, ‘Yes, Dear!’” She was a little more profound. “One of the things that has made our marriage last so long,” she noted, “was that on our wedding night I made a list of ten things that I would choose to forgive him for, no matter what the circumstances.”
There was a lot of nodding and smiling and many knowing looks. But as the celebration was winding down, one recently wedded granddaughter, whose marriage was increasingly unstable, gingerly approached her grandmother and asked, “Could you tell me what kinds of things you put on that list?”
“Honey,” replied the older woman, “I never actually got around to making the list. But every time your grandfather did something I had a hard time dealing with, I would always say, ‘Good thing for him that’s on the list!’”
Five Blemished Truths
Every long-term church leader understands those sentiments. Jesus is great, but his spouse needs a lot of forgiveness. That doesn’t diminish the love I have for the church; in fact, we have become very endeared through the years!
At the same time, I have learned a few lessons about the lovely quirkiness of Jesus’ best friend.
For one thing, she has a short memory.
Unless decisions are tagged by S.M.A.R.T. (Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Timed) goals, and milestones are celebrated, and history is documented, the church is very forgetful. One leadership expert says that vision needs to be articulated every 17 days; another suggests that corporate memory is gone after 45. While these things sound astounding, I’m inclined to believe them. Whatever we have been doing for three Sundays is the way we’ve always been doing it. And whatever we have not done for the last month might well have never happened before.
Second, the church has a split personality.
Emotionally she is a teenager in complete sync with the latest fads and fashions. Unless the music is now, unless the technology is tomorrow, unless the preaching matches the latest conference, the church tends to throw tantrums and create squabbles. At the same time, she is a fussy octogenarian who does not understand why the young people are taking over her church, her society, her nation, her neighborhood.
Third, the woman of Jesus’ dreams becomes domestically-cocooned extremely quickly.
When she falls in love with Jesus, she is extremely energetic and socially exuberant, telling everyone about her man. But the moment the new house is built, she forgets the neighbors and plays with furniture. She even begins to resent block parties and hospitality. While Jesus still walks the streets, the church stays home and admires herself and her finery in front of a mirror.
Fourth, Jesus’ bride is wonderfully kind, stable and supportive in crises.
She gathers the little ones, shelters the displaced, feeds the hungry and pays the emergency bills. True, that spiritual Alzheimer’s kicks in quickly, and domestication makes these disruptions breed resentment, but for the short-term panic, nothing is better than the gentle softness of Jesus’ good woman.
Fifth, the church carries Jesus’ flag.
Although she is forgetful, temperamental, inclined to forget her lover’s passions, insensitive and too often majoring in minors, the Bride of Christ is endowed by God’s Spirit to seek the things above, serve as the conscience of society, wave the banner of the Kingdom, and get misty-eyed when thinking about why Jesus is gone so long.
She’s a good woman!