By God’s Grace, I had the wonderful privilege of serving as Chaplain at Okinawa Christian School for 5 years, and during that time, I met many good pastors on the island as well. One pastor, Nick Guerra, at Zebulun Christian Discipleship Center, has both blessed and challenged me over the years, and because of his experience ministering with servicemen, and regularly those in “The Brig”, I gave him an even tougher assignment: to speak to my 11th grade Apologetics class! I believe Pastor Nick has faithfully showed that the hardest to reach are those who already think they have everything they need, and we have them everywhere!
Anyways, since I had just preached on the vital necessity for Church Community, this message from Nick hits home on an even more personal angle, and with his permission, I share it with you:
"It's Still His Bride!"
What kind of husband would let someone insult, reject, and disrespect his bride? Can you even imagine a husband intentionally looking the other way while folks dishonored his loved one? Unthinkable! Unfathomable!
Yet, to a large degree this is what many within the body of Christ do daily -- overtly and overly criticize Christ's Bride, the Church. Complaints about His Bride range from "the Church is boring" to "the Church is full of hypocrites." Add to that "the Church just wants your money" to "I can have church at home by myself, or just watch a service on TV." (So many problems with this.)
Why, just last week I caught myself almost begging a Christian, who wasn't a fan of church and hadn't been to church in quite some time, to come to Church with me. It occurred to me, "How would I feel if I had to beg someone to meet my wife (bride) and develop a relationship with her?" Talk about righteous anger boiling up within me! I confronted this guy with, "Who do you think you are?!! You should be begging Christ for permission to come into His presence!" (This newfound perspective rattled this young man's cage a bit, as it did mine.)
Also, just last night, a prisoner (R) honestly asked me, "Does the Bible say that Christians have to go to Church?" (Very interesting that I had just addressed this very issue the previous Saturday at Zebulun, so I was loaded for bear. LOL!) I posed the following to the inmates for consideration:
1. "God called you into fellowship with Christ." You , as a Christian, have been invited by God into fellowship and participation of Him and all His fullness... His feelings and views (Rom 8:9), His trials and sufferings (1Pe 4:13; Col 1:24; Php 3:10), His heirship, inheritance, and glory (Rom 8:17), and His triumph in the resurrection and future glory (Mt 19:28; Jn 14:19; Rev 3:21) [Albert Barnes commentary]. What Believer, in their right mind would reject this invitation from the Lord?!! Give me one good reason for rejecting God's invitation!
2. "What kind of son (daughter) are you?" If the Spirit of adoption indeed took place (Rom 8:15), what heir would intentionally remain separated and distant from their Father?
3. "Who's your daddy?!!" I'm not asking about your Heavenly Father, nor your biological father. Who's your spiritual father? (1Cor 4:14-17; Php 2:22; 2Tim 1:2, 2:1) When folks can't name their Pastor, or tell me they don't have a Pastor, I immediately call them "Bastard." (Yes, I do... and those faces, though. LOL!) I explain to them that the Bible addresses the bastard-child in Hebrews 12:5-11, and that, in the natural realm when kids grow up without fathers, they are labeled as bastards... and bastards have common tendencies, i.g., loss of identity, immaturity, and issues of abandonment, loneliness, anger, and rebellion. Likewise, in the spirit realm, Believers without fathers (Pastors) are major problem-children for the Church. I tell them, "If you never get a Pastor, you'll be somewhat okay, but you'll end up trying to learn on your own. This is not God's best for you! Pray to your Heavenly Father for a spiritual Father, a Pastor." (Which leads me to Point #4.)
4. "God gave us Fathers" -- Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Evangelists, Teachers (Eph 4:11-16) -- for the perfecting of the Saints. Why would a true Believer reject these gifts from God?
5. "How shall they hear without a Preacher?" (Rom 10:13-15) Inside the Church and outside the Church, God gave Preachers. Besides God, who are you, personally, hearing from? Or, do you already have the God-stuff all figured out?
Some balance: Does the Church have problems? Of course. Does the Church struggle with morality? Of course. Does the Church need correction? Of course. But, it's still His Bride! And He loved her... still does. And gave Himself for her! Just be reminded that there is a vast difference between criticism and counsel, and condemnation and correction. It's still His Bride.
Honestly, all of us need to fall on our faces in genuine repentance before the Lord for disrespecting, dishonoring, disregarding, criticizing, insulting, ignoring, neglecting, and rejecting His Bride
(used by permission from Pastor Nick Guerra, https://zcdc.wordpress.com/pastors/)