If you want to make a lot of money in Christian circles today all you have to do is write a book that slams the American church. It's an easy target with a large target audience. I have read a number of them, finding myself nodding in agreement at the critiques and criticisms.
However, this morning in my devotions I was reading through Leviticus and I started getting a nagging feeling that maybe I shouldn't spend so much time slamming the bride. You see, I read Leviticus as a marriage covenant between God and His people. He brings them out of the bondage of Egypt, walks them up to His holy mountain, and . . . . marries them. They become His bride. The rest of Leviticus is basically the vows of the marriage, the conditions of their covenant relationship.
The bride, regrettably, was prone to adultery. She broke the terms of the marriage in the most vile ways possible. But God was relentless in His love and ultimately brought His bride back to Himself, cleansed through the blood of Christ, and renamed her The Church. He filled her with His presence and put His heart into her heart. His desire is that they would become one - with Him, through Christ.
Though still prone to wander, this broken body is Someone's wife. Instead of cynicism and a critical spirit, I need to extend my hand in love, to treat her as I would want someone to treat my own beautiful wife if she were hurting. Not kicking her when she's down, but lifting her up to restore her to where she belongs.
I know there are issues - but rise above them and look upon this broken woman as one who is loved with a deep passion by the God of Love. Don't get me wrong, the issues can run deep and have hurt many people and have stifled true discipleship, and they should be addressed. I'm just saying be careful - she is still Someone's wife, and she is very much loved.
Ephesians 5:25 -32
"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. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church."