The Beauty of the Local Church
Anne Rice is a novelist known for writing books about vampires that have sold 100 million copies. She made a very public profession of her conversion to Christianity in 1998. Recently she declared she was quitting Christianity. In a posting on her Facebook page, she said, “I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being ‘Christian’ or being a part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. Later she posted – “My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn’t understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become.” She is not alone in her views. Trends show that people are stepping away from established religion in increasing number. The question I have is, “How do you and I keep from becoming like Anne Rice – who in the face of the ugliness of the Church pull away from her?” The answer is found in being draw to and captured by the beauty of the Church. Beauty and the Church. Not two words most people put together. Yet, I am convinced if you don’t see the beauty of the Church – both the Universal Church of all believers for all time – and the Local Church – the Christ designed and ordained local expression of this Universal Church – the ugliness of the Church will eventually drive you away. In the light of that reality, do you know the beauty of the Church? Most don’t. Jesus does, very personally. You see, the Church’s Beauty lies in her being the Body and Bride of Christ. The Body’s beauty is a functional one – where her beauty lies in her doing what she is designed to do – grow. The Bride’s beauty is an aesthetic one – where her beauty lies in her stunning appearance. Like men who watch a car, ship or plane do what it is designed to do, when Jesus Christ looks at his Body, he says “She’s a beaut!” Like a bridegroom watching his bride come down the aisle, when Jesus Christ looks at his Bride, he says “She is beautiful.” This is the Beauty of the Church. We need to believe it, contemplate it and learn to admire it until we are captured by it. Then, like all beauty which is designed to turn the admirer away from the object to the author, we will look upon and worship this Head and Husband who have bestowed such beauty on his Body and Bride.