Stop Dating the Church: Day 2

What do you think of when you hear the word “Church?”  If you are older, you might think of very negative perceptions.  If you are younger, you might think of church as a place where you get told what to do (and what not to do), as well as thinking of it as a place where your parents make you go.  This chapter focuses on the word picture found throughout the Bible: the church is the bride of Christ.  If you are married, think of your wedding day.  Men, think of how you felt when you saw your wife walking down the aisle.  Women, think of how you felt as you walked down the aisle and saw your husband beaming with joy.  This is how God describes his love for his people: he calls her his bride.  What a powerful statement that we have stripped of its glory through our sin.

Harris focuses primarily on Eph 5:25-32 to further discuss how, as the bride of Christ, God truly cares for and loves us.  For instance, How much does Christ love the church?  He loves us so much that he gave himself up for us.  His love for us is not fickle and flighty, but tender, committed and patient.  And not to be overlooked, “His love for us is so deep and his identification with us so real that he views us as his own body.  In our union with him, his life extends to us.”  Harris also makes this point, which I think is often overlooked (or not truly taken into careful consideration)

Now notice that the Ephesians passage above ends with a reference to Genesis 2, which says that in marriage, a man and wife become one flesh.  Then Paul tells us that the Genesis passage actually refers to Christ and the Church.  What is he saying?  Is it possible that God didn’t get his inspiration for loving the Church from marriage, but that one reason God created marriage was to illustrate his love for the Church?

God invented romance and pursuit and the promise of undying love between a man and a woman so that throughout our lives we could catch a faint glimmer of the intense love Christ has for those he died to save.

So what is the point for this chapter?  It is for the reader to understand that they must see the church as God sees it (and not see it with all its warts).  Two other owrd pictures are used towards the end of the chapter to identify how God views the church: as a body, and as a temple.  

The Church is so close to the heart of God, so central to his work in the world, that he calls us the body of Christ.  We’re more than brothers and sisters in Christ.  As we express our union with him through service, worship, and love, we become the physical manifestation of our Savior on the earth.

And for the temple imagery…

Throughout the Church, God is creating a structure like no other in history.  It’s not made of stones or bricks.  It’s greater than any cathedral built with human hands.  This building is composed of living stones.  The apostles and prophets laid the foundation, Jesus himself is the cornerstone, and you and I are being joined to it.

So what are the implications, if the church is a beautiful bride, a body, and also a temple?

1. We cannot live our Christian lives on our own.  When we were saved by sin, we become part of something bigger than ourselves-a family, a body, a temple.

2. If Jesus loves the church, you and I should too.  

3. Jesus is at work every day making us beautiful.  The truth is that we are all messy people.  We constantly fall victim to sin, which makes the church a really ugly place (it is a place full of sinners, not the beautiful place we want outsiders to see it as).  But the truth is that God chose us before the foundation of the World (Eph 1:4-6), he died for us, and even though that was 2,000 years ago, his love for us has not faded.  “Jesus still calls us His bride.”

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