Here's something: I used to imagine that God was an old man with a beard past his nether regions who held a clipboard in his hand. One on side of the clipboard it was a page of tally marked Goods and on the other tally marked Bads.
He constantly held the clipboard and sometimes when the Bads side got too overwhelming, he'd put me over his knee and wallop me one with that clipboard, hit upside the behind with my sin, you might say.
When I say that I used to imagine that God, please don't mistake me: used to means only two short years ago.
Lately there's been a lot of "the church is failing..." talk flittering about places and the whole thing reminds me of that bearded God with his tally marks and spankings, keeping track of the ways in which we fail and the ways in which we bring home the gold. Lately there's been some talk about all the ways in which the bride of Christ is not clean or spotless or too clean and spotless. I'm wondering who in the world would marry a bride who is neither and both at the same time.
Let me tell you who: Jesus.
The first time I heard my pastor talk about anything, it was a three minute clip called "Jesus wants the rose." It was also the first time the conceptions I had about God and His tallies began to crack. Take a minute and watch it, will you please?
If Jesus wants the rose and he wants the whore and he wants the broken and beaten, doesn't it make sense that He wants the bride who fails not only Him, but the whole world too?
Here's something that's a great comfort to me today and yesterday and every day for the past two years: I'm failing and fallen and broken and I'm going to fail every single person in my life in grand and manifold ways. The body of which I'm a part, the church, the bride of Christ, is going to fail too.
We're going to stand in lines at fast food chains, or not. We're going to write blogs we wish we could take back and say words we didn't mean and commit to things without thinking of the full ramifications. We're going to tweet nasty things about being peaceful and we're going to keep our mouths and wallets shut when real injustice happens. We're going to see our pile of bads build and fall, and our pile of goods feel paltry and half-hearted.
We are going to fail.
We are going to fail in big, fat, glaring, embarrassing ways.
But Jesus wants the rose.
So let's do the bride a favor, shall we? Let's bend down and pick her up, and when Jesus asks who gives this bride to her groom, let's say, "Me, I do. We do. We give her away. We trust that You will know best what to do with her and how to do it. We trust you already have. And we're proud to stand by her side today and trust her to you."
And then let's feast all together forever.