In-Sight: For the Bride (4)

Calling this brief series “For the Bride” does not mean that I am only concerned about the Body of Christ.  I grieve for all those who are harmed by the Church’s attitudes and actions.  My focus on the Bride simply means that I take seriously Peter’s reminder that God’s judgment begins with the Church (1 Peter 4:17).  And I believe we are experiencing that judgment.

Concern for the Bride means that our attempts to make an authentic witness in the world cannot commence with credibility until we have taken our own sinfulness seriously.  We have spent too much time and energy looking over the fence into other people’s yards (even the yards of other Christians), while ignoring the weeds in our own.

I am greatly encouraged by the call for internal reform in the Roman church by Pope Francis, and I believe it is something God wishes to see throughout the Body of Christ.

The Bride is naked for more reasons than the homosexual issue. She is in shame for a host of things–things like material opulence on the part of denominational and parachurch leaders, things like “good old boy systems” that protect unacceptable behaviors, things like fostering narcissistic lusts for power, things like making one political view appear to be the only Christian one, and things like excluding women from the opportunity to respond to God’s call to ordained ministry.  The list goes on.

But a fresh Wind of the Spirit is blowing.  We are not the first generation of Christians to say, “Enough is enough” and begin to work for renewal.  Ours is not the first age of reformation.  But it is one, like previous reformations, that calls for a rare combination of courage and humility–one that moves forward with a broken and contrite heart, and one that requires the restoration of the supremacy of love.

The Bride will escape the grasp of those who have made sport of her.  And when that happens, the world will once again receive from the Church the life-giving witness of the fruit of the Spirit, not the waxed fruit of counterfeit Christianity.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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