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The Bridezilla of Christ

• Greg Boyd

The Church is the body and bride of Christ. And while Paul says that we are holy in Christ’s sight, we don’t always act like it. In this sermon, Greg talks about how difficult it is to hope in the Church, and how we can still strive to be the Bride of Christ.

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Colossians 1 has a beautiful hymn about Jesus and his supremacy over all creation. It says that in him all things were created. It goes on to say that he is the head of the body, the Church, so that in everything he might have supremacy. At the center of God’s purpose in the cosmos is the Church, and it is the vehicle by which Jesus’ supremacy comes to creation. But when we look around at what the Church is, we begin to wonder if this is actually true.

It feels like the Church doesn’t fit in this passage. When we look at the cosmos, it is grand and magnificent. The majesty of Christ fills the cosmos, and it is beautiful. The wonders of the universe show the creative and beautiful nature of God. The gospel shares this same creativity and beauty, and parts of the Church share this as well. But when we look at what the Church has done through history, it is easy to become disillusioned with the Church’s role in reestablishing creation.

How can the Church be at the center of God’s purpose for the cosmos? It started out pretty good, with people self-sacrificing and growing the church by acting like Jesus. But when the Church became the official state religion of Rome, things went downhill. Instead of bearing crosses, Christians started bearing swords. Looking back in history, the Church is more often described by things it’s done wrong rather than the things it’s done right. That nasty stuff muddies the water by which the world drinks. While the Church is supposed to be of Christ, it looks more like the world and isn’t fulfilling its purpose of reconciling the world to Christ.

Oftentimes, we don’t see the real Church. And when we don’t see the real Church, it seems like a cruel joke that the Church is supposed to be the vehicle by which Christ reconciles the world to himself. And this talk of the Church in the middle of this hymn just doesn’t seem to fit. Then, we ask ourselves, where is the true Church? We find a small strand of them throughout history, but do we see it in our local church and do we see it in ourselves?

Even though the Church can sometimes be an ink stain on a beautiful dress, God uses us to reconcile creation to himself. He used Abraham, who lied and let men sleep with his wife to save his own hide, to further the Kingdom. He used David, who committed adultery and killed the husband to cover it up. He even uses a donkey to talk to a pagan to accomplish his purpose. What we learn is this: Christ has the supremacy, not the humans of the Church. God stoops to our level and works at our level to fulfill his purpose. It is for this reason that we can remember three key things about being the Church.

The first is that we can have hope. We must never give up when we fall short. And we will fall short. Yet, God keeps showing us endless grace. God shows his supremacy when he uses incomplete humans to accomplish his plans. No matter how dire the Church looks, we just focus on the grace and love that Jesus shows us, and we can have hope for the future.

The second is that opting out of Church is not an option. Many have quit organized religion because it doesn’t look like Jesus. But Jesus died for the Church. Learning how to live with these silly and hypocritical people is how God grows us. We are simply called to love others, and that includes others in organized religion.

The third key is that God can use you. When you look at who God has used in the past, it’s not too far of a stretch for God to use you. He shows his supremacy by using incomplete people to complete his purpose for creation. Nothing can disqualify you as long as you surrender it to God. Strive to be the true Church, and slowly, we can work side by side with God in reconciling creation to himself.

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Topics: Controversial Issues, Defense of Christian Faith, Hope

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Focus Scripture:

  • Colossians 1:15-23

    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
    Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[a] your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

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8 thoughts on “The Bridezilla of Christ

  1. Ian says:

    Wow!! EXACTLY what I needed to hear right now!!!! Thank you so much, Greg! This was prophetic for me, bro.

  2. Nicole says:

    I thought Bruxy came closest to expressing my long held beliefs until I heard this sermon. It’s sermons like this that help me draw my sister to Jesus. She loves Jesus buts hates church and all the dishonest, misguided, cruel, deceitful, etc. etc. things that go on in church. If I can ever get her to listen to this she might start feeling slightly different but I won’t be counting on it. I just like her to know that I love her regardless of anything and that God is in her whenever she wants to find him. I loved this sermon, found it downright heartening and true. Keeps me hanging in to know that brilliant people are expressing my deepest beliefs. Never thought I’d hear them in church.

  3. Chris says:

    Thanks so much Greg for that encouraging word. I have been a Christian for 40 years and so often get tired of what I see as church. Its just so often plain boring and man centred and yet as you say God continues to bless and use it for His glory. My wife and I live in Londonderry Northern Ireland and listen to your messages frequently. God bless you my friend and your family and church.

  4. John says:

    I’d love to add to this expression of appreciation for this great message. I listened to it a second time today and as Nicole said above, I also feel that this kind of message opens the door for the beauty, truth and honesty of Jesus Christ to reach wonderful, integrous but sceptical people. I want to send it to a few of my friends/family.
    It seems to me there are so many non-christians who understand hypocrisy/integrity better than so many Christians… I’m assuming that’s why Greg sounds like an “Atheist” when he speaks from the gut and digs out a bit of history and talks about uncomfortable things. OMG! I love it.
    This message also reminded me why I am drawn to Greg’s sermons so much and why he played such a vital role for me to better understand the gospel and be able to experience such wonderful and surprising stuff during the last years. I can open up to a voice of such cut-the-crap let’s face it integrity and honesty and openness. I’m often just in awe at the beauty I can sense during some of these messages. And that keeps me going.
    That said, I genuinely crave and miss “a true church” (whatever that looks like exactly), a community to share faith and life and discipleship with which encourages and explores honesty/integrity/authenticity/growth/freedom/compassion and which reminds one another what discipleship means. I don’t want to circle around myself and my friends, I want to get out and explore/change/live/grow/discover/let go/die (AHA! a suicidal nihilist!!!).
    Anyhow, that’s enough 🙂
    These podcasts are a life-changer and a game-changer for sure. Thank you wc CHURCH! I may be coming to visit you (and my family in the twin city) this summer. What a prospect!

  5. Hans says:

    Awesome message, does anyone know where I could get some more information on the woman that King James killed for using the pain medication?

  6. Timothy says:

    I am starting a Church – and this sermon was very inspiring. Thank you so much for your wonderful depiction of the Church.

  7. Dr Anabella Hoppe says:

    There are two churches I can spiritually feed from:
    WH and a very small church called Alas de Salvacion in Venezuela.

    Lets support WH with our prayers and resources.

    Thank you pastor Greg!!

  8. I had no problem hearing you bash the church–very respectfully, I think. I left the church when I was 16 because I experienced so much hypocrisy. I was looking for Jesus for almost 30 years but was consistently turned off by Christians who went to more traditional churches. It was not until I met Christians who were living in a residential community (owning their own homes, but geographically close) that I was inspired by people who seemed to really be living out Jesus teachings of love.

    I was inspired to surrender my life to Christ and I am so grateful to these people many of whom are still my friends and with whom I fellowship. That is why I am so passionate about not only being more Christ-like myself, and helping my children do the same–but I yearn to be a part of a very healthy community that is able to really welcome non-believers and show them that we love each other and we love them also.

    I loved what Ravi Zacharius said about how we are going to reach people. Even though his focus is on Christian apologetics, (which I am passionate about) he said that the bottom line is that people will be drawn by a worshipping community. And I would add–they we will know we are Christians by our love–for each other and for them.

    Thanks for this wonderful talk and clarification about Woodland Hills Church beliefs. I appreciate the positive pentecostal attributes that this church appears to have.

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