Somewhere along the way Christianity has gotten their idea of church wrong. We try to depict the Bride of Christ, the church, with the same pictures that John used in the Revelation. And wouldn’t it be nice if the Church today, on earth, were the eschatological bride that we read about: the bride has made herself ready, with fine linen bright and clean (Rev 19:7) and the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven is prepared as ‘a bride beautifully dressed for her husband’ (Rev 21:2) or the bride, the wife of the lamb, described as the Holy City, coming down out of heaven from God: shining with the glory of God, as brilliant as a very precious jewel and as clear as crystal (Rev 21:9-11).
But far too often the bride of Christ is anything but. More often than not, the church is not the perfect place that we want it to be, and that shouldn’t surprise us, after all, it’s people like us that make up the church, people like us who come together as the bride, and, in a nutshell, we’re imperfect people who can’t quite figure out how to make the church the perfect place to be on Sunday morning, or any other time for that matter.
So instead of the beautiful bride, the church frequently comes across as the ugly step sister, or as Ted Kluck and Ronnie Martin call her The Bride(zilla) of Christ (Multnomah, 2016). The subtitle of the book—What to Do When God's People Hurt God's People, is equally telling. Intentionally or unintentionally, we don’t always get it right. Pastors, elders, deacons, youth leaders, Sunday school teachers, small group leaders—we all get it wrong, we all make mistakes. We all hurt the rest of the body.
But as always, there is hope to be found in Jesus, and the authors are very adept at pointing out how grace, forgiveness, and repentance go a long way towards bringing the members of the body closer to the place God wants us to be.
I appreciated the authors’ honesty and openness as they described their faith journey. (And I got quite a kick out of Kluck’s comments about vulnerability having a tendency to become a tactic. (Think about it, how many people who talk about how humble they are, are really humble; and when you put your vulnerability on display, well, sometimes there’s an ulterior motive.)
This is not, despite what it may seem from the sub-title, a self-help book; rather it’s the story of how we often get disillusioned because the church, the Bride of Christ, is not yet what it will someday be. To soften the blow, the authors share some things that have worked for them as they deal with the consequences of imperfect people trying to get closer to the perfect Jesus.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for publishing a review.