by: Sam Picken
“Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” Revelation 21:9
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another...” Hebrews 10:25
Please excuse the promiscuous title, but if I captured your attention, the title worked. This is not a blog explaining how hot my wife is, although she is really, really hot. The purpose of this journal is to cause you to ponder how hot the church is.
How would any husband feel if he heard people speak badly about his wife? How would he feel if his wife came to him saying that she was lonely, neglected, abused, hurt, empty and left to fend for herself? That she felt outdated, irrelevant and devalued. This would bother any good husband. If anyone were to dis my wife, Jess, I would be pretty upset. If you knew my wife, you’d know it’s impossible to say anything bad about her.
You’d think this would be the case for the bride of Christ, right? How could anyone dis what Jesus so loves?
I fear that in our generation, there is an increase of people walking away from the local church. There are many reasons why this happens. I believe the main reason is that the church is led by imperfect people; it’s stewarded through imperfect hands and advanced through the passion of imperfect hearts. And when you get one imperfect person in community with another imperfect person, hurt, pain and offense are inevitable. Many people walk away from this type of community, but meaningful relationships require the navigation of difficult circumstances.
Is this cause enough to stop defending her? To stop fighting on her behalf? To cease trying to improve and represent the church the way Christ wants us to? I don’t think so.
The church is the bride of Christ, and Jesus has left His bride in our hands.
So are we the global Church (Capital ‘C’) or the local church?
Is the right way to have the church meeting in a building of four walls or the Church networking all around the world? I believe it’s both! I believe the local church and the global Church need to both exist and coexist.
This is why Socality is so amazing!
Socality celebrates, defends and embraces both. A global Church community who encourages, lifts up and celebrates one another, and local church communities who meet in person to lift hands in worship before their King, together, hand in hand, arm in arm. What would relationship be without the warm embrace of a hug? Instagram, for example, comes alive in a whole new way through instameets. When people who have commented on each other’s photos and built virtual relationship finally get a chance to meet face-to-face, in coffee shops, in parks, jumping in front of sunsets, rising early to get that perfect photo together. The camaraderie shared behind a common vision becomes community with mission.
I believe we need to fight for the church, the bride of Christ! Locally and globally! Not a negative church, not a judging church, not one filled with impossible rules and stale unauthentic handshakes, but one that attracts people, draws people in and celebrates who Jesus is through encouragement, love, generosity, passion, light, joy, acceptance, vision, courage, excellence and excitement. These are the things that attract people and gather people together; not darkness, hatred, rudeness, judgment, condemnation, boredom, chaos and manipulation.
I am excited about the church today. I don’t believe we are a generation who will neglect the bride of Christ or speak badly about her as if Christ can’t hear us. I believe we are a generation who are going to build, establish and serve in local churches all around the world, while still being the global Church through the power of Christ.
If you have found yourself hurt, damaged or offended by people in church, and it has caused you to walk away, I apologize. I would encourage you to speak to the husband of the bride: JESUS. Speak to Him and allow His hand to work in your life. He may lead you to forgiving those imperfect people who have let you down or give you a fresh revelation on what the church is. I’m not sure, but I’ll leave that part to Him.
I encourage you to find a house that you can defend, that you can celebrate, that you can give to, that you can serve in. Find a house that represents the bride of Christ. A community that you feel like you can belong to, get rooted deep into, that’s established on the Word of God. A place that you can brag about and speak nobly about. Try not to ask, what can this church do for me? Or, does this church meet my needs? But rather, ask yourself, how can I feed into the church? Or, how can I give to it to meet its needs? When you approach it like this, you’ll find God’s principles at work: give and it will be given to you. You will be fulfilled when you first fulfill.
This doesn’t guarantee that you won’t be hurt again; the potential for hurt is high in any healthy growing community. Pray that you would see the bride through the same eyes of the husband who loves her unconditionally. He thinks she is honorable, precious, virtuous, strong, trustworthy, elegant, pure and beautiful. As you believe in her, you’ll find that the church is the most amazing, God-ordained, community on the planet.
See you in church,
Sam is a Melbourne-born Aussie living in Toronto, Canada, with his wife @jesspicken and their new born son #babynoahpicken. Sam moved to Sydney to study at the C3 (Christian City Church) Bible College where he also worked as a social worker with at-risk teenagers. Back in 2003, God first spoke to Sam about planting a church in Canada. Ten years later, Sam, Jess and a small team moved from Calgary, Alberta, to start an exciting church in downtown Toronto (@c3toronto.) Sam's prayer is to see people fully devoted to Jesus and living lives worthy of their calling. He is passionate about building the church that represents Jesus for who He is.