Me and Jesus
By Laurie Mathers
My childhood home was a place of conflict. My room was my retreat. It’s where I did my homework, drew pictures, read books, ate my dinner, and watched TV. Alone. I felt safest there, alone, or sometimes with a friend. I’ve spent my life since trying and failing to find safe people and places.
Looking around, I see I’m not the only one. Social anxiety is epidemic. The American ideal of rugged individualism and self-determination has given way to a culture of rugged trampling and being trampled.
Thirteen years ago, after a lifetime in and out of churches, I came to Christ. Since then I have watched Christians leave the church, one-by-one. A few rejected the faith outright. Others expressed their frustration or dissatisfaction with church. Some had been abused. I am sympathetic to them all.
“Me and Jesus” is a siren’s song. I, too, have been dissatisfied and frustrated. I, too, have witnessed and experienced abuse by Christians. I, too, have been tempted to give up on church and go it alone with Jesus. It would be easy to believe the author who refers to my heart as “the prize of God’s kingdom,” or the one who said that the Bible that the Holy Spirit gave to the church was insufficient to satisfy her private yearnings (2 Tim. 3:16-17). She required “personal” communication from God.
“… I betrothed you to one husband,
to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.” 2 Cor. 11. 2
While it’s true that our individual relationships with God are so personal that they reach deep into our souls to cleanse and transform us, Paul wrote the words above not to an individual woman, but to a church. According to God’s word, I am not the bride of Christ, we are.
“Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish … This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5.25-27, 32
To be the bride of Christ is to be a part of his church. Jesus poured out his life and sent His Spirit to transform his gathering of people. The church is the focal point of his energy (1 Peter 2.4-19), the center of our growth, the place where our transformation is revealed, and where his love is displayed to the world (John 13.25, 1 Jn. 1.9-10).
The church is also our destiny. It is the new Jerusalem, the city in which we will dwell, not alone with Jesus in our rooms, but together for eternity (Rev. 21.1-3).