Happy anniversary to me! As I write this, it is July 1, 2009, twenty years since my wife and I made our vows before God and men to be husband and wife. Twenty years give you a fair amount of time to get to know your spouse. I am thankful that after twenty years of observing my wife, witnessing her struggles, hearing her confess her sins, and watching her bear with me, that we are not only committed to one anther, we actually love and enjoy one another.
I think you would understand and appreciate that though I know my wife well and understand her strengths and weaknesses, that I am also very defensive of her. To have someone speak ill of her, to attack her, to belittle her, to mock her is to raise my ire! I know that she is not perfect, but she is mine and I love her dearly.
Imagine someone seeking to tell me how much they love me, want to be around me, admire me (yes, please, I said use to your imagination!) but that they hate my wife. They always complain about her. They make fun of her. They want me, but they don’t want her. Disgusting you say? And yet many who profess love to Christ act in like manner toward His gathered people.
One of the most striking illustrations of our Lord’s love for His church is to refer to her as His bride. It is a term full of commitment and tender affection. Jesus loves His church, and not just His CHURCH (invisible, triumphant, etc), but His churches (local, gathered). He loves His local congregations. We have every reason to believe that He still walks among them week by week. His relationship with His church is formal, covenantal, committed, and loving. He delights in His gathered people and counts them as the apple of His eye. He rejoices over them with singing (Zep 3:17).
He speaks of Himself as her head, as her shepherd, as His Temple. These are not casual, take it or leave it terms (they are not His bubble gum wrapper, His disposable razor, or whatever cheap term you can think of). We are hearing increasingly that people think highly of Jesus but little of His church. Really? You can do that? He’s happy with that? If you are one of those who say you are committed to him, but not to His body, it simply cannot be. You cannot say to a human, I love your head, but I can’t stand your body! They kind of go together! You can’t say to a shepherd, I love you, but I can’t stand what you do! You cannot say to a priest, you’re great, it’s the Temple I can’t stand! The Jesus you profess to love, loves His churches, do you?Jim Savastio Reformed Baptist Church of Louisville