"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Eph. 5:25-27).
The Apostle Paul portrays the love Christ had for the church in this text. Christ serves as the head of the church; she is His bride. The time of the presentation of the church to God will be at the end of the journeys on earth. At that time Christ will present the church SPOTLESS, WITHOUT WRINKLE, to His Father. Hence, it follows that any spots or wrinkles in the church will be removed. The church has made commendable progress in the past few years, but we cannot help seeing some spots in it. Let us examine some of the spots that are seen in the church as a whole.
Indifference is defined as having no preference, showing neither interest nor dislike. Man uses indifference complimentary; but it is nauseating unto God. God wants His children to take a positive stand. The church at Laodicea was indifferent and we have this record of it: "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou are lukewarm, and neither cold or hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." (Rev. 3:15-16). Are we fit for nothing but to be spewed out of the Lord's mouth?
Christ emphatically stated, "He that is not WITH Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad." (Matt. 12:30) Notice that Christ said we must be WITH (not merely "for") Him. To be "with" Him means that we shall be in the harvest fields gathering with Him. One might be for (in favor of) God without being WITH Him. We can't stand on the fence; we shall either be actively engaged in the work of the Lord or we shall be against Him. Many people are indifferent toward the services of the church because they make no special effort to attend. Many care little for the work of the church. Indifference retards the progress of the church. It leads to antagonism among members. It is truly a spot!
Another present danger to the purity of the church is worldliness. Masses both in and out of the church are going to hell because of worldliness. We must keep the church in the world but the world out of the church. Satan uses every wicked and cunning thing possible to thwart the growth of the church. When we partake of the things of the world, we bid goodbye to the Lord and join hands with the devil. John says, "Love not the world, neither the things in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 John 2:15) Again we read, "Whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." (Jas. 4:4) Nothing lowers the morals of a nation more than the public dance hall. The mixed bathing resort is the nursery for immoral conduct. Card playing leads more than a few boys and girls into the public halls of gambling. Even some church members patronize many of these places of sin. Those who are "lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God" (2 Tim. 3:4) are diseased with "spotted spirituality."
It seems that some churches of Christ are falling right in line with the sectarian world on the idea of growth regardless of the fact that they are departing from the faith. When two or more congregations become joined together to the extent that one eldership "elders" over more than one congregation, it becomes nothing less than a denomination. A denomination, as commonly accepted, is a religious organization larger than the local congregation, but smaller than the church universally. If the elders of one congregation have the right to oversee the benevolent or mission work of another congregation, why can't they oversee every other phase? We are in great danger of having "spotted spirituality" if institutionalism creeps into the ranks of the church.
Putting The Church Second
Jesus said, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt. 6:33) However, many church members seem to think that the church was established as merely a social organization that we can go to or support in our spare time. For example, boys and girls are educated in everything but the Bible. No wonder we are spotted! We feed and clothe our physical man. If the body has no appetite, we go to a doctor immediately; but the spiritual man can go for months or even years without the bread of life and we are not alarmed in the least. How many church members put clubs and lodges above the church? How many go to lodge instead of prayer meeting on Wednesday night? Christ told us to put the church above all else; "seek first the kingdom of God." If we respect His authority, we shall obey Him in this as in all other commands.
What is the cause of this alarming condition of "spotted spirituality" in the church today? There are several contributing factors, one of which is softness. Many congregations today do not want a plain gospel preacher. They want a man to "sugar-coat" his sermons in order to get larger audiences. If he starts preaching that there is only one true church, he is too radical and will drive the sects away. If he preaches that Christians cannot participate in the things of the world and still be pleasing to Him who called us out of the world, he is a fanatic and will drive the "young people" away. The church grew by leaps and bounds when the battles were being waged. It has been said that the denominations simply do not fight any more. Could it be that they have no one to fight? Why is a "good mixer" in greater demand with most congregations that one who preaches the Word? Could it be a condition of "spotted spirituality?" Modern psychology will always be more popular with people than a stern rebuke. But the question is, "What is the most pleasing to Christ?" After all He is the one we should be trying to please. The statement of Solomon, "Reprove not a scorner lest he hate thee; rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee" (Prov. 9:8) is just as true now as ever. "The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword." (Heb. 4:12) Paul told Timothy to "reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine." (2 Tim. 4:2) God is no respecter of persons, and the gospel must be preached without favor for mankind. Modern psychology will not save one soul; the gospel is God's power to salvation and must be used.
Christ will present the church spotless before God. Any spotted person will be weeded out so that the church may be pure. Is the church a glorious church? It must be. Let us grow in grace and knowledge to the extent that we shall not be suffering from "spotted spirituality."