I love being in the Kingdom of God, living the Jesus way and doing all I can to make it as hard as possible for my family, friends and neighbours to go to hell. The only problem I have with focusing my life on Jesus is His Bride. I love Jesus so much…but his bride, the church…she drives me to distraction so often!
She has bored me, frustrated me with so many man made rules and regs, and been hopelessly out of step with my world so many times. And more than that she has deeply hurt me, abused me, tried my faith, and caused me to doubt and question.
My old church in London was used by Jesus over the years to shape me up and although I’ve now retired from there, guess where my heart and thoughts are on Sundays? A deep spiritual ache still remains in my heart.
Jesus filled me with His spirit there, challenged me to lay my life, my basis for living on the altar there, and hand it totally over to him. I found it so helpful exploring all that that meant with other like minded Christians.
I learnt how to pray through the night there, to wrestle against principalities and powers, to see demonic spirits leave people, sick people healed and see a mother set free from death row in Congo.
Church brought healing to my life when twice I was gravely ill, and once turned my hospital ward upside down with a Palm Sunday praise invasion.
Church affected my eyesight and I became colour blind as Jesus gave me brothers and sisters from parts of the world that eat and dress and sing and rap and dance and pray differently to this white boy. Our church national anthem was ‘Jesus love has got under our skin’; how we used to love singing that at our church anniversary and how we’d cheer and sway with delight when calling out the names of those nominated to receive a special Birthday Honours each year – those unsung heroes who’d served Jesus in a quiet unnoticed special way. And how we’d celebrate – what food, what dance, drama, art, poetry, laughter beneath the fluttering flags of all the nations, vibrating to the drums and praises from every tribe, tongue and nation!
Our church encouraged me to learn and grow and find out God’s plans for my life, and to try to locate that in the scheme of eternity and God’s kingdom, resulting in me leading church planting teams to Africa and India for over 20 years. What amazing things we saw happen.
She got in my face about the need to attend to my character, and take the pain of my past to Jesus and drove me to distraction, sleepless nights and tears many times.
As I said, I love Jesus but His church… it’s still a love / hate relationship, but now I have been free to visit many churches of all shapes and sizes, some just about hanging on, I have to say I love and believe in the church even more than ever.
I’m not talking about the idea of church, where we can all affirm the imagining of a better church. I’m talking about the church as it has existed and will continue to exist in history till we hear a loud trumpet blast.
The church messed up by you and me.
And if we can love THIS church, imagine what we’ll do on the day Revelation 19v7 says is coming, when she eventually gets her act together, sorts herself out and remembers she’s a love-bride for Jesus, not an earthly man made organisation for keeping the saints happy.
The Bible suggests the only word suitable for such a day is HALLELUJAH!
‘’Bring it on Lord, and until then help me keep on loving your bride as much as I love you’’.