I love you, but I can’t stand your wife

Do you think you can love me and hate my wife?

Yeah . . . right.

Our friendship stands little chance if I hear you’ve been trash talking the love of my life.  If I hear things like:

“Tom’s a great guy, but why does he insist on bringing her?”

“I love hanging out with Tom, but his wife just bugs me.”

“I like Tom, but I can’t stand his wife.”

If I knew you were saying (or even thinking) that about her, do you think our friendship would grow? Do you think trust would develop between us? Do you think I’d invite you into my inner circle and allow you to influence my life?

Fat chance.

Lady Mary from Downton Abbey
Mary may be “damaged goods,” but Matthew’s love for her covers that as he plans to build the future of Downton Abbey with her as his wife. Matthew’s love for Mary is an image of Jesus’ love for his bride, the church.

But lots of supposed Jesus followers do exactly that when it comes to the church, the bride of the Jesus they claim to love.

You’ve heard it. Heck, maybe you’ve said it.

“I love Jesus, but I can’t stand the church.”

“I follow Jesus, but I don’t do the organized church thing.”

“I like you, Jesus, but I despise your wife.”

Good luck with that.

Let me be clear. I know many of you have been hurt by churches. I am truly sorry for the ways the bride of Jesus may have mistreated you or disregarded you or made you feel awkward or ashamed. The church has much to repent of, and I’ll be the first one to tell you that and line up to join the confessional booth.

But here’s the deal: As nasty and unlovable and wrong as we’ve been, Jesus hasn’t divorced the church. The church is still his, and he’s got a plan that involves the church in the restoration of the world. It may be hard to believe, but that wife you can’t stand is the very means through which God is restoring relationships and renewing righteousness in his creation (Ephesians 3:7-11).

Don’t dis the church if you want to hang out with Jesus. They come as a package deal.