Leaving your church: Don't insult a man's wife
Don't Insult a Man's Wife
As you consider not going to "church," you must force yourself to consider the spiritual realities of your disassociation with the body of believers that the New Testament calls the "bride" of Christ. (Revelation 21.2, 9; 22.17). Jesus refers to Himself as the bridegroom throughout the gospels in parables, but there's a powerful testimony of John the Baptist in John 3.28-30 where Jesus is clearly called the bridegroom.
"You yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ[a] but am sent ahead of him.' The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less."
Last year, in a span of a week, I performed two weddings. In each, it was remarkable the joy and respect that was given to both the groom and bride. All attention was focused on the happy couples. It is always more meaningful when the two are each deeply committed to Christ. In those cases, it's not just a ceremony but a celebration.
But consider the worst case scenario in such a moment. At the height of the service, just before the couple is introduced to the guests as "Mr. and Mrs. So-and-So," someone jumps out of their seat and screams, "But she's soooo ugly! And she can be so mean! And she has hurt my feelings on a number of occasion!" they splutter and rage.
Imagine the shock and dismay that immediately would descend on the gathering. So many others there do not think what you think. You're entitled to your opinion, but by being so critical and vocal, of the bride, you have unwittingly invited the scorn of the groom.
In fact, here comes the groom. To knock you out of the room.
The church as the bride
In the New Testament, the church is repeatedly symbolized as the bride of Christ (Matthew 25.1, Mark 2.19, John 3.29, Revelation 19.7, 21.2, 9), and in Revelation 22.9, an angel provides the sublime introduction to the apostle John:
Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.
As we've covered before in this article series on Leaving Your Church, there are good and bad reasons for leaving your church. The intent of this entry is to urge you to watch your mouth as you're leaving. While it's good to communicate clearly that you are leaving, it's wrong to tear down the church as you leave.
You may think it's your mission to spread light on all the wrongs of the church you're leaving, but take into consideration that it's more than just a collection of people. The church you are leaving is also the bride of Christ. Just as will be the church you'll wind up at. (assuming both preach the gospel and truth of Jesus Christ).
You may have genuine disagreements with procedures, personalities or future purposes of the church you're leaving. However, there are probably a lot of earnest believers who have chosen to remain at the church because they either don't see what you see, or they sincerely but lovingly disagree with your conclusions.
At our church, we consistently inform new members that we don't tolerate negative or critical talk about other churches or ministries in our region. It's wrong to build up your own church by tearing another down. You may think you're justified in your judgement of the bride. The groom may object to your observations.