Saturday, February 28, 2015

Confusing the Bride and the Dress

I saw yet another article last week conflating the institutional religious organization with the Bride of Christ, in this case an article titled Does Your Youth Ministry Mess With Christ's Bride?. The point being a concern that youth ministry takes away from the "mission of the local church", i.e. Christ's Bride. I am not much of a fan of most of what passes for youth "ministry" but this article misses a bigger point.

Jesus did not die for First Baptist of Dallas and their $130,000,000 "campus". He didn't even die for your local Presbyterian church. He died for His Sheep, for His elect people. Not to put too fine a point on it but He died for people, not for religion. That doesn't mean that all forms of local gatherings are inherently bad but it does mean we miss what ought to be a pretty clear distinction between the people and the trappings.

It is probably not unexpected. In our culture we place an enormous amount of emphasis on the wedding day and all that goes along with it, getting just the right dress and having just the right caterer serving just the right meal. What is missed is the marriage. Ask couples twenty years down the road of marriage if they would rather have had the perfect wedding and a miserable marriage or a small, simple wedding and a solid marriage. You know they answer for anyone not named Kardashian. The church tries but needs to do a better job of preparing young people for a lifetime of marriage rather than helping them plan for one day. In fact it might be appropriate for elders to pull a couple aside and suggest they spend as little as possible on the wedding to instead prepare the foundations for a financially responsible marriage.

Perhaps that same mindset is what leads us to focus on the trappings of religion rather than on the people of the church. When a pastor talks about his "vision" and urges a capital campaign to raise funds to build a fancy new building (that mainly benefits the donors), people trip over themselves to give money. When a family in the church is in need they are often too embarrassed to ask for help and if they do the request is often looked at with suspicion. It is so much easier to place our emphasis on that which is flashy and obvious rather than that which is often messy and uncomfortable. In doing so we miss the reality of the Bride of Christ and substitute an empty imitation.

Jesus didn't die for a wedding garment. Let's keep that in mind and focus instead on what He focused on, His actual bride, His people.


Kate said...

Lol, we've just gotten into a like 2.6 million dollar expansion and a Capital campaign.

What gets on my nerves is the loss of value as there is less and less tradition and the way that kids perfer to vacation together in NYC instead of taking a trip to Africa where we (gasp) might get the picture we are here to serve.

Aussie John said...