She’s far from perfect. Often, she’s an embarrassment. She doesn’t always do what she’s supposed to do; She regularly does what she shouldn’t. She more closely resembles the scary love interest from Billy Joel’s “She’s Always a Woman” (see selected lyrics below) than the perfect, unblemished Bride of Christ.
The only logical reason I can think of for Jesus entrusting the Church with His entire plan for reaching the world is 1 Corinthians 1:27-29:
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
When His plan is fulfilled, it will be beyond obvious that we didn’t do it in our own power. To God be ALL the glory.
The Church is not what she should be, but she is what she is. She is the Bride. She represents God’s hands, feet, voice and heart to the world. She is an imperfect messenger and ambassador for a Holy God, but there is no “Plan B.” We, as the Church, have complete job security in our role. God isn’t taking resumes from eager job candidates, wanting to usurp our spot. He has put all His eggs in our basket, so to speak.
So, instead of getting frustrated with what the Church is doing or not doing in the world, maybe we should try harder to lift her up. Maybe we should treat her as perfect and unblemished before she actually is. People (and most likely groups of people) tend to live up to (or down to) our expectations of them. What if we gave her a high expectation to live up to – the expectation of what God says about her in Scripture:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
Our challenge is that we tend to evaluate the Church based on what she DOES rather than on WHO she is. But which one do you think is more important to God? …the WHO or the DO? Maybe if we treated Her more like WHO she is, she would start to act accordingly.
“You see, really and truly, apart from the things anyone can pick up (the dressing and the proper way of speaking and so on), the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she’s treated. I shall always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins, because he always treats me as a flower girl, and always will, but I know I can be a lady to you because you always treat me as a lady, and always will.” (Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion, a play by George Bernard Shaw)
She’s Always a Woman (Billy Joel)
She can kill with a smile
She can wound with her eyes
She can ruin your faith with her casual lies
And she only reveals what she wants you to see
She hides like a child,
But she’s always a woman to me
She can lead you to love
She can take you or leave you
She can ask for the truth
But she’ll never believe
And she’ll take what you give her, as long as it’s free
Yeah, she steals like a thief
But she’s always a woman to me
And she’ll promise you more
Than the Garden of Eden
Then she’ll carelessly cut you
And laugh while you’re bleedin’
But she’ll bring out the best
And the worst you can be
Blame it all on yourself
Cause she’s always a woman to me