The Mistress & The Bride

Over the past couple weeks I’ve been confronted with this idea of settling for less. While it’s not always something that is outright or blatant, it is always a choice. The form that it takes has been different each time. But the same question is always posed; Will you settle for less or push on towards what is promised?

 

In this age of moral ambiguity it is getting increasing more difficult to determine what is right and what is wrong. As the lines get blurred I find that the church is beginning to settle for a mistress.
Her name is dysfunction. When we settle for dysfunction we end up sacrificing our wholeness.

You may not see the correlation between moral lines, dysfunction and settling. But let me tell you a story. Recently I had taken my car in for an oil change and tire rotation, while the mechanic had been rotating my tires he had checked my brakes. When he had finished and I received my keys back he mentioned that my front brakes were completely rusted and didn’t work. Therefore I was solely relying on my back brakes to stop the car. Now I had “known” about this for a while, as my steering wheel would shake rapidly every time I braked. But instead of getting it checked out, I ignored the problem hoping it would go away. In that moment I was faced with the stark reality that I didn’t want to hear about. It would cost me $800 to make things right. Knowing the cost of my life wasn’t worth $800 I opted to getting them fixed, not only protecting my life, but the drivers around me.

When we focus on repairing the dysfunction in our hearts and lives we are actually protecting the people and relationships around us. When we allow dysfunction to reside in our lives we inherently impact the relationships around us. If my view of God is distorted, then I will view my relationship with God and others through that lens. Be it hurt, fear, jealousy, greed, envy, bitterness, or _______. It will always come back and bite us. You can fill in the blank for your life, but we all have areas in our lives that we don’t want to deal with or just flat-out ignore.

When we focus on repairing the dysfunction in our hearts and lives we are actually protecting the people and relationships around us.

There is a story in one of my favorite books, Joshua, where the Israelites are tricked into letting a people group occupy the promise land. It’s found in Joshua 9, and for the sake of length I won’t quote the whole thing. But feel free to check it out. Right after the nation of Israel sees a huge victory at Jericho they go on to fight the other nations in the land. But one nation decided they would trick Israel instead of going to war. So they send out a delegation loaded with worn-out sacks and old wine skins, cracked and mended. They put worn and patched sandals on their feet and wore old clothes. All the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy. Saying “We have come from a distant country; make a treaty with us.” It goes on to say that the Israelites didn’t inquire of the Lord, believing the delegation they accepted the treaty only to find out they had been deceived.

If we let compromise dwell in our lives the likelihood that we are able to conquer our promise land becomes less and less likely. We must fight to be diligent to learn what the Lord’s heart is for us during this season of our lives. Like the Israelites we can be deceived into thinking that a small compromise won’t affect our future. But as it states at the end of the chapter. Vs 27 “and they remain there till this day.” A friend once told me this; the things that the Lord is trying to teach you, are the things that He will continue to teach you until you learn them. He is content going around the mountain several times until we submit our lives to His process.

Unfortunately our response for dysfunction in the church through the years has been criticism. To react as we see the world reacting. Areas we have once been strong in, we are now weak because of compromise. Because we are apathetic in our lives, we allow apathy in the church. Instead of searching the heart of the Lord for the answer we ignore the problem, criticizing the church so we can ignore the problems in our heart. However criticism will not rescue the church from dysfunction, but a love for the bride will.

There have been a select few moments in my life where criticism has actually helped my circumstances. However the majority of the time, help has come in the form of empowerment and love. When those around me encourage me to move towards Christ, and past my circumstances or attitudes.

When I look at the way Jesus saw the church specifically Revelation 19:8 ( but also throughout Ephesians, see 5:25-27). It tends to convict me and my ability to love His bride. Where I, haven’t championed her in the way He does. My plight in this last season has been not reacting to the things that I see in a harmful capacity, but to respond out of a love for the church as Jesus has. But this also goes hand-in-hand with my own life. When I choose to ignore the areas that Jesus is trying to restore in my heart, I tend to get critical of the bride believing that she is not doing her job.

While the church has it’s shortcomings at times I am still a member of that same body. One that Jesus says is to make himself spotless. Ironically enough, that requires allowing him to work and move in my heart, removing the old and replenishing it with the new. When He renews my heart and my vision the way I look at His bride changes. From criticism to compassion, from disheartened to loving. But I cannot do that on my own.

My exhortation to you today would be: go to war against the dysfunctions in your heart and life. The things that are obstructing you from the promises of the Lord in your life. But don’t do it on your own accord, abide in His love and grace, letting that work in and through you. Setting you free to experience His love and joy for your life.

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