I've been thinking about the Church a lot.
Jesus loves the Church. It's absurd to say I love Him, yet shun His bride and body. If I love Him, I'll grow to love what He loves and hate what He hates. It's not hard to find things wrong with the Church—that seems to be a favorite pasttime of Christians and non-Christians alike. Yet our hope, our only hope, is in His love for her. Not only does He love her despite her flaws, He will make her utterly clean and radiant by His power.
It's not a gag order, by any means. Hopefully God will be using us in that process, calling one another and the corporate church away from idolatry and sin toward faithfulness and love. Our repentance will be ongoing, both individually and as a community. Yet we must constantly ask if our criticisms are rooted in love—in His love for His bride. How close can I really be to a Man if my days are spent reading the litany of His wife's flaws and declaring her hopelessness? Can I truly claim to love Him if I treat her with contempt or indifference?
It takes faith and courage to love the Church, to be open to loving an entity so fickle and flawed based only on God's promises and His love for her, knowing that she can even hurt and betray us. That's a faith and courage we must receive from His Spirit; it's not something I can drum up within myself. But as I fall more in love with the Bridegroom, I will come to see the Bride through His eyes. Her beauty will begin to captivate me.
And then, perhaps, I will realize that this is how He sees me.
Maybe that's the part that so many of us really find hard to accept.