The Church, the Holy, Universal Church, is the Bride of Christ, holy, set apart for divine joy and eager to participate with the Christ in blissful cooperation. The Church is the Bride of the Christ.
If we think of the church, rather than the Church, categorically, we may notice various ways the Bride of Christ groups in and to itself to be rather a different kind of Bride.
There is the church as Burden.
A responsibility is not necessarily a burden and a burden need not be too heavy. My trainer has my responsibility for various growth and fitness exercises pared down to what I can lift while correctly performing the movement. Perhaps that is the thought to guide us; for each, take the load down to what they can carry while they live happily and let them grow in responsibility.
There is the Dwarf church
Sometimes, we find a six foot preacher in a four foot church. This will obviously be a bad fit; he sticks out on both ends and is constricted in the middle. The church is uncomfortable, while the preacher is uncovered.
There are three possible solutions to the dwarf church problem. That is, the preacher can go put on a six foot church, the church can cut two feet off the preacher or the church can grow to fit the preacher.
One should not bemoan the fact the preacher is too big for the church unless one plans to be part of paring him down to size so that the church can continue to be a spiritual dwarf. The church might grow to fit the preacher if it does not panic at the first sign of change. Growth is change and it terrorizes the faint-hearted.
Naturally, change is the preacher's fault, for he is the tallest fellow in the crowd. The church has not been able to pare him down, so now they must tear him down. If all who are left are the same size it will not stand out that all are dwarfs. Some may even be tall dwarfs and so stand out themselves. Still, the fellow who does not fit must go.
I went to Togo on a mission one year. The missionary who was with me led me around by the hand, so that I would not lose my way.
One day, we were standing at a ramshackle hut that served as a border crossing station. We were waiting for our visas to be stamped. Suddenly, behind the hut, an explosion racked the atmosphere. A few of the little bush soldiers, barely out of the villages and armed with Uzis, ran around and fired a few shots.
The missionary told me, "Don't run. Stay perfectly still." He was gripping my arm tightly.
I stood still.
After it was over, he said, "Sorry to be so pointed. It's just that when the bombs go off and the little guys fire their guns, they look for anything moving that seems out of the ordinary. You are the tallest, whitest thing out here. You don't belong, so the best thing is to stay still and not attract them by movement."
You are the tallest thing out there.
You don't belong.
You will attract dangerous attention by movement.
Hold perfectly still.
The trick, of course, is to stay still long enough to calm the dwarfs, all the while moving, perhaps imperceptibly, to move the church to become the Church. This cannot go on for long.
The church on a Diet (Instead of a Fitness Program)
Here is one of the other ways my trainer changed my thinking. She does not use the word "lose," much. She talks about gaining muscle mass (this burns calories) and gaining stamina and gaining health.
I have a private theory about the failure of diets. That is, diets are about losing and no one wants to lose, unless it is just too hard to win.
That, and chocolate, which I cannot have any longer, is just sooooo gooood.
Yes, I am off chocolate. Sell your cocoa futures. Hurry.
I have run out of time for this session. (Other) duty calls.