Inseparable - a packaged deal

Do you know of any two things that are inseparable? As I made a list, one of the first things I thought of was a nut and a bolt.  Yes, a simple nut and bolt are functionally inseparable. When my family and I were living in Canada, my boss took his Jeep in for new brakes in preparation for a long drive to Florida.  Unfortunately, the mechanic forgot to tightened down the lug nuts on one wheel and it came off on his drive home.  Needless to say, it caused a considerable amount of damage.  As you’ve likely experienced, when it comes to moving parts, a bolt without a nut usually results in damage of some sort. I also thought about a drill and a bit.  A couple of months ago, in preparation for a drilling a hole, I sat my drill on my work bench and was charging up the battery as I looked for the correct sized bit.  I quickly became irritated when I discovered that I had about every other size of bit but the one I needed.  Even though I have a drill with a powerful20 volt lithium-ion battery, it was useless without the proper bit.
At first, my list was a collection of simple things but then it got more heartfelt as I looked up and saw Cheri.  We’ve been married 36 years and I’d say we’re inseparable.  Even though we spent long periods of time apart while I served in the Air Force, we remained a packaged deal.  Although she had to share me with the Air Force, and now the local church, we are two distinct individuals that are inseparable in marriage. If you invite me to a Christmas party and you don’t invite Cheri, we aren’t coming to your party. If you make discouraging remarks about Cheri, you’d hurt me as well. And then, as I was thinking about marriage, I remembered what the Bible says about Jesus and the church. Since there remains confusion that the church is a who instead of a what I’ll remind us that, in fact, the church is all the people who have trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior. With that understood, in a figurative description, the Bible says that Christ is the Bridegroom and the church is His bride (Ephesians 5:25–27). Yes, Christ and His church are inseparable. They are two diverse entities but, nevertheless, a packaged deal.
Besides, the Apostle Paul not only describes the relationship of Jesus and the church as a marriage, but he also describes the church as the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12). If you had doubts about the inseparability of Christ and the church, all doubts are erased with the comparison of the church and the body of Christ. After all, how can you separate Christ from His body?  And yet, people continue to ignore the body and bride of Christ as if Christ makes no mention of His love for her. They speak of her insignificance. They complain of her demands. They tire of her inconvenience. They condemn her weaknesses.  In fact, they’ve tried to change her identity. They refer to her as a place to go instead of a people belonging to God.  They even defame her by insisting that she is an optional meeting on Sunday mornings. And, all the while, Christ loves His bride unconditionally. I imagine Christ is deeply hurt by the disparaging remarks made against His very own body, the church.  I can also envision that Christ is genuinely offended when He is disrespected by His bride.
If you put a motorcycle engine together with just the bolts and no nuts, it would be incomplete and very dangerous. If you insisted on using a drill without a bit, you would damage the drill and mutilate the wood. If you commit yourself in marriage and fail to love and respect your spouse as the most important person living and breathing in this world, two people, and likely the entire family, are potentially wounded for a lifetime. Likewise, if you accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord and nonetheless discard the church, you are rejecting the very body and bride of Christ. No matter the cost, the imagined inconvenience, the call for sacrifice and the required service—the church remains inseparable from Christ. After all, He died on the cross to make the existence of the church possible. Furthermore, Jesus is not only the head of the church but the chief cornerstone.
People who discard the church not only miss the inseparability of Jesus and His bride but the benefits of the fellowship with God’s people. As the church, we learn from each other and support one another. We share and meet each other’s needs. We encourage and exhort one another. We worship and serve together. We protect each other from the wolves and call the sheep to return home. Admittedly, we have our faults and make mistakes but Jesus never leaves us or forsakes us. We disappoint and hurt one another and by the power of Jesus we forgive.  Moreover, we wrap each other in the same grace and love that Jesus poured out on us.
As we look toward Christ, we see the church with Him. As we observe the church, we see Jesus as the object of her devotion and worship. In every case, whether a nut and bolt, a drill and a bit, a husband and wife or Jesus and the church, the relationships are essential and ideally beneficial. They are a packaged deal. They are inseparable although distinctly diverse. As such, I encourage you to embrace the church as the inseparable bride and body of Christ. Love her knowing how much Jesus loves her.
A Work in Progress,
Pastor Gene

Gene StocktonComment