When I heard we were focusing on the church this month, my mind immediately started compiling a list of all the ways the church wasn’t meeting my needs. I thought those might make an interesting post, coming from a pastor’s wife, in an “everyone has issues with the church” kind of way. With a little one around, I’m not able to write precisely when ideas start forming in my mind, and that turned out to be a really good thing. Before I had an opportunity to type a draft, God used the couple of days I’d been developing my list of church struggles to expose the decaying root of those thoughts and feelings.
You see, I always secretly dreamed of being a pastor’s wife — not because I felt God had some particular calling on my life to be a pastor’s wife (though apparently, He did), but because I thought being a pastor’s wife would somehow check another box on my Good Christian Girl List. When I met my future husband and discovered that not only did he meet all my criteria for being spouse material, but he was also a youth pastor, there may have been some fist-pumping action in my living room. Dating, and marriage in general, has taught me many things about myself, but dating and marrying a youth pastor has taught me even more about myself and the church.
Though I wouldn’t have admitted it then, I was one of those jealous girlfriends I had previously rolled my eyes at during my single years. I had an unreasonably emotional response to Tim’s past relationships and was always on the look out for potential competition. While I no longer harbor ill will towards Tim’s ex-girlfriend, there is a a woman who still magnifies my insecurities — the Bride of Christ.
Ephesians 5: 22-23 compares the relationship of a husband and wife to the relationship between Christ and the church. Respect, unity, honor, and purity surround their union and intense, selfless love is at the core. We are called not only to love our spouses with that type of love, but we are also called to join Christ in a similar love of the church.
At my worst, I view the church as my competition. She takes Tim away from our family at odd times. She demands attention that I would like for myself. She forces me to give resources that I would like to hoard. She is important to my husband’s emotional and spiritual well-being. She is intricately tied to our family’s livelihood.
My jealousy of The Bride, the church, has been destructive. It has grown dislike, bitterness, and resentment in my heart where there should be understanding, encouragement, and, most importantly, love. Love does not envy. Love is not self-seeking. Love is patient.
My jealousy has driven a wedge into a relationship I care deeply about — not between me and husband, but between me and God. I have mentally, emotionally, and spiritually separated myself from the church when I am actually an important part of the church. The church is Christ followers; Christ followers are the church.
I am, we are, the Bride of Christ.
There is no need to be jealous when we get to link arms with the Bride and walk down the aisle towards Jesus.