Jesus and his ol’ Lady
At a meeting of the North American bishops and archbishops of our denomination in Orlando, Fla., recently, Archbishop Craig Bates of New York was sharing how some people say they love Jesus but loathe the Church. He said that he personally loved both Jesus and the Church. “In fact,” he said, “I don’t see how you can love Jesus and not love His ol’ Lady.”
Immediately my ears perked up. As a motorcyclist, I made an immediate connection with the biker world. In a motorcycle club, or MC, the female companion of the MC member is often referred to as the “ol’ Lady.” It is not normally a term of derision but of affection and standing.
When I was a teenager, if I had referred to my mother as the ol’ lady, I would have been picking my teeth out of my mouth, courtesy of my dad. The same would result if I called him the Old Man. Yet, in the Marine Corps, troops often referred to the commanding officer as the Old Man (behind his back), but it was a term of respect and affection.
In the MC world, the club, quite honestly, is a man’s club. It is the male who rides the bike and the female who rides in the passenger seat. While the women may have their own auxiliary organization, it is not on an equal par with the MC. It is the males who decide where the rides will go and what the activities will be. The ladies are along for the ride. This is not true in a “riding club,” but it is the rule in an MC.
The New Testament refers to the Church as the “bride of Christ.” The Church, the ol’ lady, is not in charge. Jesus is the head of the Church. He is the High Priest and, while each member of the Church is a member of a “royal priesthood,” the two are not equal. He leads, the Church follows.
Well, it is the way it is supposed to be anyway, although much of the Church seems to have missed that somehow. Worship, for example, is all about Jesus and not what the members of the church like. He is on the Throne, the Church is not. He is the head, the Church is “the body of Christ.”
Now there are courtesies extended to ol’ ladies in the MC world, especially in non-“outlaw” MCs. Anybody messes with, insults, criticizes, or harms a biker’s ol’ lady does so at his own very serious peril.
In fact, in one MC with which I am familiar, prospects, or potential MC members, are often assigned to watch over and protect the women. Sort of like the Church being surrounded by angels. The women, in my experience at least, are treated with respect and are valued.
The Church is composed of those for whom Jesus gave His life. He said that He came to build His Church and that not even the gates of Hell would prevail against it.
It’s not that the Church is all that powerful — but He is. The Church is extremely valued by and precious to Jesus. I think Archbishop Bates was correct and I would even go a step further — one cannot truly love Jesus and loathe or disrespect His Church.
Several years ago, when I was engaged to be married, my wife’s boss committed a disrespectful act. In today’s world, he would have been arrested or at least civilly sued. In that world, women were not as empowered as they are today. So, I paid him a visit. Problem solved. Don’t mess with the Ol’ Lady.
Jesus is the savior, the sustainer, the lover, and the protector of His Bride. Whatever the world may think of the Church, however imperfect and even sinful she may be — however courageous she may have shown herself to have been at times and however shameful her behavior has been at other times — Jesus loves His Ol’ Lady.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of theDiocese of the Mid-South (www.midsouthdiocese.org. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]