Read Ephesians 5:25-27
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, 27 so as to present the church to himself in splendour, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. (NRSV)
We are born into our earthly families and have no say in it. We are thrust into a group of people who may love us or fail to love us, please us or fail to please us. We don’t pick our families; we just have to learn to live in them. And hopefully bring out the best in one another.
Similarly with the Christian church. If we spend our time trying to find just the right group of people with whom to associate, we will not only waste a lot of time but be looking in the wrong direction with wrong assumptions. There is no perfect church just as there is no perfect family. True, when it comes to churches we do have a choice whether to join or not to join. But no matter what choice we make, imperfect human beings will be our companions. Which is just as well since we are similarly imperfect.
The writer Henri Nouwen once defined a community as “a place where the person you least want to live with always lives.” A sobering reminder that church is not an escape from relational challenges but the arena in which they are worked out.
Jesus loves his church and is working to present the church to himself with all its wonderful potential fulfilled. But that is yet to come. In the meantime, his much loved bride has quite a few spots and wrinkles which nevertheless don’t cause him to cease loving her. So too we don’t wait for the church to be what it should be but rather love it for what it is.