We have all been guilty of it before. And most of the time we don’t even realize we are doing it. Something doesn’t settle well with us or we feel like something needs to change and before we know it we find ourselves spewing word vomit about the church. I know this may seem like such a small thing, but I think we need to be careful. After all, we are talking about another man’s wife. Ephesians 5:25-27, “…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 (bride), without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” When we speak ill of the church, we are speaking ill of the Bride of Christ and we are treading on dangerous ground.
Think about it this way. Where do a lot of our conversations take place about the church? During the car ride home? Around the Sunday lunch table? And are we assured that our audience understands all that is being said? I imagine a lot of our conversations about the church (regardless of whether or not they are healthy) take place in front of ears too small to understand the context out of which we speak. And so often we don’t even try to censor ourselves or explain why we are speaking the way we do because we think of our investment first in the life of the church. But, I know if one of my boys heard someone speaking negatively about their mom that they would intervene or quickly come and report to daddy. Is this the way we think about our words about the church?
Or maybe you find yourself speaking about the church to an outsiders or to a coworker. And though you get excited about some of the “programs” often times you find yourself playing down the things you find lacking or disappointing. Not to put it too crudely, but that’s kind of like calling another man’s wife fat. I mean, think about it, you are basically telling someone else that the bride of Christ is okay, but really she is pretty undesirable. And you may say to yourself that this doesn’t really count because you are just talking about your local church and all it does but see if this statement rings a bell, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Church universal…” If you believe and adhere to the idea that God’s Church is universal then when you speak badly of one, you speak badly of all.
And this is a blog topic that aims the finger right back at me. How many times do I need to check what I am saying about the church in front of my family and friends? I think this is something where we all need a little check from the Holy Spirit. A little reminder that says, “Hold up…before you say what you are about to say, would you be comfortable hearing someone say that about your spouse?” And I think a lot of the time, we wouldn’t. We might even be, as we put it in the South, spittin’ mad. So let’s love the Church with our words and deeds…for all that she is, hangups and all. We don’t have to worry about fixing her ourselves after all. If we are being disciples, as we are called to be then Christ’ love will make her radiant.