Tuesday, April 12, 2016


I can’t help it. I love the Church. I don’t care if she is imperfect.
I can’t help it if she’s all too human. What would you have her be?
She can only be what she is, but by faith,
she will be what Christ, her divine Bridegroom, has made her.
Yes, she is His Bride, she, and no other.

The apostle writes,
‘Do not stay away from the meetings of the community,
as some do, but encourage each other to go;
the more so as you see the Day drawing
(Hebrews 10:25).

What if the meetings of the community are occasions
for glorying in the flesh?
What if going to them angers and upsets you?

Well, ask yourself then, ‘Why is this?’

What are you doing
that you notice the glorying in the flesh of the brethren?
Who is it that you have your eyes on,
them, yourself, or the Lord?

Ask yourself, ‘Who am I to be angry?
And why should I be angry?’
Who is being offended? Who is offending?

To offend is a choice, to be offended, the same. Yet God, who has the greatest and most just cause to be offended by our sinful thoughts, words and deeds, He forbears. The ‘righteous’ put themselves forward to castigate and judge the unrighteous, and the ‘correct’ advance to rebuke those who offend them.

All the while, the eye is not single, the body is not full of light, in the one who lets himself be offended by the folly of others, in the Church, or in the world, it doesn’t matter.

‘When you go to the temple, be on your guard.
Go near, so that you can hear;
the sacrifice is more valuable than the offering of fools,
even if they are unaware of doing wrong’
(Ecclesiastes 4:17).

I know whom it is that I have trusted,
I know in whom I have believed.
I know the truth He speaks, and that truth is strong to save,
as He has said, and sets me free.

Free from what?
Free from judgment, free from fear, free from ignorance,
free from hatred, free from every bondage
to what can be seen, heard, touched, tasted or thought.

How can one say he loves God and His Christ,
while he hates the Church?

Perhaps he hasn’t yet grasped what the Church is.
Perhaps he only hates the false images of the Church
that have tucked themselves into the corners of his mind.
Perhaps he thinks that the Church is only what he sees.

The world thinks that Jesus Christ is only what it sees.
The world thinks He’s just a man.
Looking past His miracles
because ‘just a man’ can’t perform miracles,
‘It must be sleight of hand—He’s just tricking us!’

So the Church too is only what he sees.
A broken down, corrupt, self-centered society of hypocrites.

‘They’re just a bunch of hypocrites!
They’re just play-acting, pretending to be sinners
so they can pretend that they’re saved!’

Looking past their miracles—hypocrites can’t perform miracles
—he focuses on what he’s chosen to see,
just as he’s chosen to be offended.
It’s a vicious circle, literally.

Yet the Church, like Christ her Divine Bridegroom, is different on the inside than she appears on the outside. Her exterior may be plain, it may be rude, it may be disfigured, as it is written of her Spouse,
‘His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and His form marred beyond human likeness’
(Isaiah 52:14)
that He was not recognized for who He was.

So it is with the Church. Those who look only at her outside never really enter her and see her from the inside. Even when they seem to enter her, they still stand apart as her judge, just as Pilate while in the presence of Christ stood apart, and asked mockingly,
‘What is truth?’

The Bible cannot be understood outside of the Church,
nor dogma outside of divine worship.

Neither of these, not the Church nor its worship,
are within our control as followers of Jesus.
All that is within our control is our own wills,
and free will was granted to us as a test of our being.

Do we chose to take offense and give offense through the abuse of our free wills, or do we choose to follow the commandment?
‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself’ (Luke 10:27).

And who is our neighbor?
It is everyone we meet, and not least our brothers in the faith,
with whom we are joined in one body, the Body of Christ, the Church,
to whom the apostle writes,
‘my greetings to the Lady,
the chosen one, and to her children,
she whom I love in the truth’
(2 John 1).

This is why I say, I love the Church. This is why I encourage you too, brethren, to love her. Don’t set yourselves up over her to judge her, but treat her as Christ has treated you, overlooking your sins and giving you time to repent. This is what John the Revelator means when he writes,

Happy the man who reads this prophecy aloud,
and happy those who listen to him, if they keep all that it says,
because the time is near.
Revelation 1:3

No comments: