My struggle has not been with questions surrounding Who God is, but who I am, and who His Church is. At a definitive point in my life, I let myself, and I believe, my God down, in a way that I still struggle to recover from. I did not turn my back on my God, but allowed other things to move into my line of sight, and began focus on them at the forefront instead of Him. Even momentary glances away leave scars on my heart, and allow the enemy a foothold to convince me that I am unworthy to look again toward my Savior. My theology, my understanding of God, and my experience encouraging others urges me to receive His grace and run into my Savior's arms without hesitation - but in the moments of struggle, my lack of courage and poor perspective of the Divine leaves me hesitating with every step I take toward His Love.
This same struggle with my unworthiness before my God, followed me to my unworthiness before my husband. Before we were engaged I struggled with whether or not I could allow him to love me, knowing I did not deserve such a man and had not lived up to all of my ideals of the perfect bride. My dad took me for a drive before granting his blessing on our engagement. He told me he would be more than willing to bless the marriage if only I would confess that I was a good match for Geoff, that I was a blessing to him, and worthy of such a man. Though I still struggle with the concept of any person being worthy of anything - I did finally relent that God through me had made me someone who could be a blessing, and a good match for Geoff.
Beyond the struggle to look past my own failings lies a connected, yet greater struggle - to look past the failings of His Bride - the Church. My struggle to reconcile my ability to be Geoff's bride is only a small mirror to my struggle with the Church presenting itself as the Bride of our beloved Savior. I have been so angered, so hurt, and so disappointed by the institution of church - as have so many others. As idealistic as I was about being a bride for Geoff - I cannot fathom the Purity and Love that should radiate from our Savior's Bride! How can we be so bold as to call ourselves the "Church," the Bride of Christ, when we behave like we do? I am deeply angered by half hearted devotion, traditional, yet meaningless doctrines, scriptural debates, and numerous other distractions that we engage in without Love; without JESUS. I am weary of the trend toward finding our identity in Christianity, rather than Jesus Christ.
When I mention the "Church," I am speaking of the Church as a worldwide whole, not any specific congregation. I have been a part of church congregations who have hurt me deeply and made me never want to return to a church building. I have also been a part of gatherings that made me feel as though God was reaching through the people there to touch me directly with His Love. It is the good experiences I have with the Church, moments where I felt as though I could see clearly a group of people coming together and representing the body of Christ, that make me so hungry to see Him represented throughout. We are not perfect, cannot be by ourselves, but will we clothe ourselves in He that is Perfect? Or will so many continue to clothe ourselves in traditions of men, because we are afraid of change, hesitating to Trust the ONE we exist to worship? While there may be activities we pursue half-heartedly in this life, being the Church, the Bride of Christ, should not be one of them.
I am reminded in Spirit even as I write this that anger with the shortcomings of myself, and with the Church are in of themselves distractions from Love. I pray that the Church would be blessed with the courage, strength, vision, and LOVE to pursue JESUS with all passion, energy, and devotion. That our line of sight with the Father would be restored, allowing no distraction to stand in our way that we may see Him clearly, and not the rubble of this sinful world. I pray that the Church would repent and be purified by the Blood of Jesus, that we may be presented before Him as His radiant Bride.
My hope and prayer for the Church is that same for myself. That we would not hesitate to run into the arms of God. That we shed the baggage that hinders us in approach and rely fully and completely on His Grace and His Love to meet us when we run to Him. I believe the only reason I long for such a thing is because it is His longing for us as well.