For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. (NLT)
Church leaders can be guilty of whipping the church up to greater and greater efforts at effectiveness and enthusiasm. Nothing too wrong with aiming to be the best we can, but church members can sometimes get a bit weary of being urged to high degrees of sweaty exertion, and being forever reminded of their deficiencies.
We need to be realistic about the church. Paul speaks of the church finally becoming a spotless church, free of wrinkles or stains. But it is not a present achievement. Rather it is a confident expectation. We are not what we ought to be, but one day we will be.
If we see the church as some utopian ideal, we will be disappointed. One of those sad individuals always checking out churches but always finding fault with them. None is ever quite good enough, quite right enough. Of course we are free to discern a church which is appropriate for us at a season of our life. Sadly, some churches are so lacking that we may have to gently and graciously leave them.
But heed the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “Every human wish dream injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to that community. Those who cherish the dream of a community more than the community itself, destroys that community. Only when the morning mists of the dreams vanish will the bright day dawn of true Christian community.”