I know more than a few people who, well, maybe it’s not fair to say they’ve fallen out of love with the local church, but they’ve certainly become disenchanted by it, at least in practice. They value Christian community and fellowship, but “church” holds a ton of baggage.
I get that. It’s easy to become disillusioned, especially when you consider all the junk many have experienced (thankfully, my few negative church experiences have been fairly minor). I sympathize, and try to empathize, with those either have or are tempted to say, “we’re done.” But what I’m always thankful for are the people who, despite their frustrations and painful experiences, refuse to give up on the church. They love her, despite her flaws.
In some small way, they’re displaying the kind of love Jesus has for his bride, the church—a love that will never leave nor forsake her. I love the way Spurgeon described it in one of his sermons:
Before the first star was kindled, before the first living creature began to sing the praise of its Creator, he loved his Church with an everlasting love. He spied her in the glass of predestination, pictured her by his divine foreknowledge, and loved her with all his heart; and it was for this cause that he left his Father, and became one with her, that he might redeem her. It was for this cause that he went with her through all this vale of tears, discharged her debts, and bore her sins in his own body on the tree. For her sake he slept in the tomb, and with the same love that brought him down he has gone up again, and with the same heart beating true to the same blessed betrothment he has gone into the glory, waiting for the marriage day when he shall come again, to receive his perfected spouse, who shall have made herself ready by his grace. Never for a moment, whether as God over all, blessed forever, or as God and man in one divine person, or as dead and buried, or as risen and ascended, never has he changed in the love he bears to his chosen.1
It’s that last line that gets me every time. “Never for a moment… has he changed in the love he bears to his chosen.” Jesus won’t stop loving the church. He knows all that she does—all we do—and loves us still. He is preparing his bride for eternity. His love will cleanse her. And someday, the church will truly be as beautiful outwardly as Jesus sees her now.
- Charles H. Spurgeon, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. XL ↵