Monday, April 27, 2009

Jesus'-Wife Beaters

I had the opportunity to take in Catalyst West Conference in Irvine, California. So many things to share from there, but something that's been on my mind that Perry Noble brought up: people who say they love Jesus, but hate the church.

I call these people Jesus'-Wife Beaters. Now, stick with me...there are plenty of people that I know who say they love Jesus, but have this deep-seeded angst with the (His) church. They love to sit and critque. They complain. They vent. They disrespect. They dishonor.

I have a beautiful wife, Brett (yes, she's a girl.) There's no way I deserve to be with her, but obviously I have her fooled. Fortunately my son looks more like her than me! I love Brett exponentially more than any other person.

Now, let's say you're hanging out with me, we're drinking some americanos, shooting the breeze and you feel the need to start trashing Brett - what you dislike about her, what bugs you about her, that you think she's ugly...well, I'm not just going to sit there and let you critique, vent about, disrespect, and dishonor my wife. I'M GOING TO PUNCH YOU IN THE THROAT! (at least that's what I'd want to do)

You catching this?

The Church is Jesus' wife, his dig? So when you sit back all smug, arms-crossed and start trashing Jesus' wife - how do you think he feels about this? Does he think: "boy, I'm so glad you felt the need to share these things with me - but how do you really feel?" hmmmm.

If you say you love Jesus, it follows that you should love the things he of those being his wife, his Church.

Now, I know there are faults in the Church, things that have gotten skewed. But that does not diminish the fact that I am called to love it - dang, I am it; we are it. It's a heart thing.

I know how easy it is to find these faults, some of them are glaringly apparent. But, what are you doing to improve them? What are you doing to be the Church we are called to be? You think you're so smart because you have pointed out all the major flaws in the church? Wow, congratulations! You deserve a prize, or at least a punch in the throat (figuratively of course.)

I believe there can be constructive criticism - but that has to be done in love. And if you're not willing to own up to your role in these flaws and be willing to have a role in the solution - SHUT UP! If you don't humble yourself in this - that's not love, don't delude yourself. Any moron can complain, that means nothing. But, who's willing to stand up and take ownership?

Does it grieve you how the Church has gone off-course in some areas? I believe it grieves Jesus too. Is this grief because you know how much more we could be? Or is it out of pride?

I'm sick of hearing it if you don't want to have anything to do with fixing it in love. So, let's together take an honest look at the Church and bring it back to Jesus.

...or you can continue to beat Jesus' Wife...


Curtis Slater said...

I agree with a lot of this, but I think we need to clarify the distinction between capital 'C' Church and small 'c' church. When Christ talks about the Church being His bride, I'm not sure He's referring to the organizations we have created, but rather the collection of believers He calls His own. So being critical of the church organizations, while not always healthy, is not exactly the same as 'beating Jesus' wife'. But I still get your point.

Anthem said...

Curtis - you are a wise man. I agree, there needs to be that distinction. We should chat more about this.

ps - it's been awhile, hope you've been swell.

you're a gentleman and scholar.

Dallas said...

I agree with this so intensely tyson. Thanks for putting it in such a pretty way. I preached at living hope 2 weeks ago, and I shared some of my heart on how we need to change. Not everyone took it as being in love, but I think the passion may have made it come across differently. I do have many friends who are giving up on the church, but i really really appreciate your passion and heart to be the church and be the change we need. Thanks for your influence. You are a champion.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tyson,
This is so well put!!! I fight with this and have been fighting with this for months now. And between what you have said, and what that curtis guy basically summs up the fight that has been going on, the fight of sitting and crying as I look at the church organization, and all at the same time having my heart exploding with love as I look at all of His people!
I really really love your passion and the heart that you have to be the change and see the change!


Curtis Slater said...

Thanks for the kind words Tyson, I will return the favor and use the same words to describe you :)

My main issue isn't that today's Christians bash the church, it's that they criticize the church without offering alternatives. It's one thing to say 'church sucks, so I won't go', it's another to say 'church sucks for this reason, and I want to work with others to help bring about a positive change'. We need to get beyond the discussions about what's wrong with the church and start a fresh investigation of the positive elements of church. Just a thought.

DaD said...

You've nailed it! A wise man you are Ty! Great thots and perplexing for that is where the problem lies . . . it's an age-old problem and continues to roller-coast because of continued battering. We are some of the worst culprits and find ways of tearing down the hope of tomorrow. May we all find within ourselves our duty of 'fixing' the problem and support one another in doing the 'right-thing'! Great words Ty!

Anonymous said...

I think we’re painting with a pretty broad brush here.

It's important to take a look at the reasons why some people may be reacting toward the “church” in this way. In some cases, the point you’re making may be quite valid. However, I want to make the point that people get to that place for various reasons and we need to remember they are still part of the Church that we’re trying to defend. Also that God transcends the kinds of reactions we as humans have, hence he does not react out of pride. (Ex - Forgive them for they know not what they do)

In many cases church culture, theological immaturity, lack of love or understanding becomes a distraction to the message and truth of the gospel. For newer believers, this impacts their view of the whole thing. Mature believers are better able to compartmentalize their experiences between the elements of people, the church and God. This is the kind of thing that causes people to distance themselves.

I know lots of people that love God but are frustrated with the church experience and end up at a distance. Many of them just got burned out from 10-15 years of ministry.

I don't say all this to disagree with your point. I just wanted to make the point that in some cases we’re just talking about distanced brothers and sisters who don’t have the benefit of the same good experiences that many of us have had… And, that one of the more important lesson I learned through my former career as a pastor is to avoid the natural tendency to begin to make judgments of others based on where they are at in their experience. They may have gotten there quite honestly.

Anthem said...

To Anonymous,

- though I'm not a big fan of responding to anonymous comments, you had some very valid points that I think are worth entertaining.

- I purposely used grandiose, wide-sweeping language to evoke reaction.
- I am obviously unaware of your experiences and trials - but I have not always had good experiences with the Church myself. I have chosen to look past my own experiences (as jaded/ misguided/ and skewed though they may be.) I know that God is bigger than my perceived experiences and do not think that my experiences encompass all there is to life.
- it saddens me greatly to know of the pains and misunderstandings that have distanced my brothers and sisters. I have too many friends to count who have walked immensely difficult roads.
- I acknowledge the fact that distanced people are very much still part of the Church, not for a second would I argue that.
- I am asking that those who are distanced will become the leaders, not the detractors.
- thank God that he trascends these petty things, because I need his forgiveness.
- my concern is if we begin to justify our bitterness/ pain/ and resentment based on the experiences we've had, the options will be endless.
- I am anything but mature, but I am beginning to understand more and more the importance of the heart behind our actions & thoughts.
- I think we need to hash these things out in love - there are problems. I am willing to engage them honestly and invite others to do the same.
- I did not intend to be judgmental, but I do believe that even those who may be immature can understand our call to love.

Dallas said...

I've noticed as a young guy in the church, the importance of submission. Peter puts it this way:

"Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:5-7

I know that sometimes, we as young leaders can get pissed off at older people in the church because:
-They are not doing things the way we would
-They are genuinely not doing things properly
-They treat us like we have no say, experience, or opinion

However... as a generation that is passionate about the church, the important thing is not to just beat Jesus' wife (whine and complain), but to throw our cares and anxiety unto God, because just like us (actually way more), He is crazy in love with the church and wants good things out of it. If we do this, I truly believe that God will give us opportunities to be "lifted up" into positions of leadership and influence in the church.

Being patient SUCKS big time, but I believe it pays off... or at least it will one day. Until then, I need to remind myself to submit to those who are older, meet with guys like Ty to talk about what WE CAN DO, and wait upon the Lord for opportunities to be obedient.

Make sense?

Kevin Armstrong said...

I think it's also important to remember that Jesus is the one who said He will build His church. So, we can take comfort in that. It's not up to us. Yes, we have responsibilities (and that seems to be what this discussion is talking about), but if we would just humble ourselves daily before God in obedience (and encourage brothers and sisters to do the same), will He not build His Church? That's a tiny bit simplistic, because even the NT churches had issues, but at the same time I think it's true.

I really think the key is having hearts that desire to see Jesus' name glorified, that are passionate about obeying His Word, and walking in humility before Him. And, God is the only one who can make our hearts desire these things... so I guess I'd say it starts with praying for this.

There's a good article at this link called "Love the Church More Than It's Health",,PTID314526|CHID598014|CIID2468852,00.html.

It talks about how sometimes we tend to love the idea of a healthy church more than we love the people that make up our church. I think that's a real danger. If we have that attitude, we're less likely to handle problems and issues with love and instead be prone to anger, poor-judgment, etc.

This has been about problems and issues in general. Tyson (and anyone else), I'd be curious to hear about some specific things that you think are wrong with the Church and what some of the cures may be... that might make for a hum-dinger of a discussion...!

Carolyn Ward said...

I enjoyed this post; I know where you're coming from and agree with you. I copied it to take it with me this Sunday - We're into the third week of a class I'm teaching on the church, and we're having some good discussion. This will be a great article to interact with them over.

Doug N. said...

Like Carolyn, I have enjoyed reading the post & discussion that followed.
If we aren't part of the solution, we are part of the problem... there's no middle ground with God.