Write In Between

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Writer's Wednesday - Alan Schreck

Jesus called the church "my church'... (Mt 16:18).

Jesus will never leave or abandon his church because he loves it to the point of dying for it on the cross...

The fulfilment of Jesus' work of preparing his bride, the church, for himself is described in the Book of Revelation. Christ, the Lamb of God, weds his bride, the church, at the end of time: 
"'... the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure'--for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints." (Rev. 19:7-8).

This is what God is doing in human history. He is forming a people, a bride for his Son Jesus Christ, and purifying the church so it will be ready when Christ comes again in glory.  We know the work of purification is not yet complete. Although we can see the "the righteous deeds of the saints," we also know that there is still sin in the church, for Christ came not to call the righteous, but sinners (Lk. 5:32).  Yet in spite of the evident sin and weakness of the church, Christ still loves it enough to die on the cross for his people, the church.

It is evident that the history of the church is marked by both sin and weakness as well as by the grace and protection of God.  This is because the church is not only a divine reality but also human, like Jesus himself. Unlike Jesus, however, the church is not totally free from sin and being conformed into the image of Jesus, the head of the church. The Gospels are full of stories of sinners being redeemed -- prostitutes, the self-righteous, and even apostles like Peter. All of them needed mercy and forgiveness. What is true in the Gospels is true in the church throughout history.

In spite of the sin in the church today and in history, Christians are not called to criticize or to sit in judgment over the church but to love the church as Jesus does. We, as members of the church, are sinners ourselves. Yet Jesus loves us enough to die for us to free us from our sin and weakness. The same is true of the church as a whole. Despite it's sinfulness, Christ loves the church and looks upon it as his beloved Bride. God is at work to purify and renew his people, his church.  Each of us should say, with Cardinal Suenens, "I love the church, wrinkles and all!"  We love the church, in spite of imperfections, because Jesus Christ loves it and died to redeem his people.

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