“And to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:27 NIV
Recently, I read a book that addressed the present condition of the church. A stumbling church that is full of flaws and imperfections. A church often judged by her own members and so far less than all she is “supposed” to be.
However, as I continued to read I was reminded of something absolutely wonderful. She is not finished. The work for her to be redeemed IS complete, all that is required for her to become a radiant and glorious bride has been made available through the Cross, but in the moment she is still being changed, she is still being transformed, day by day, one godly choice at a time. She is not hopeless. She is filled with the power to change, the power to be prepared, and to become everything Christ has purchased.
The thing that really ministered to my heart as I read was just how deeply she is loved. He does not look at her unfinished status, He sees all of the potential and beauty wrapped up in broken and struggling lives. He sees her as fully redeemed and as pure and undefiled as one who has never been tarnished by the world. He sees the unfinished church as finished and complete. His love is not for what she will become. He loves her even as she is working through all of her struggles and pain. He loves her to wholeness and He is the reason she will stand in beauty. His love for her in her pain causes beauty to rise from the ashes of broken and unfinished people, and for her wounded and shattered pieces to find that each piece fits perfectly into her life becoming whole and glorious.
My heart is encouraged today. If Christ can love you and I in our unfinished places, shouldn’t we offer that same grace to one another? I am grateful for a church that will, without a doubt, reveal her Redeemer. So, let’s not lose heart, but keep truth in our view.
Today, I am grateful for a Love that sees all of the present struggles in the church and is not disheartened because she isn’t perfect. He knows she will be exactly what He declared she would be when He comes for her, “glorious, without spot, and wrinkle.” Will it be because she perfected herself? No, it will be because the One who started the work in her will use every place of her struggle to reveal His glory. It is a good day. He is a great King.
Susan Craig says:March 6, 2015 at 3:11 am
As I look in the mirror, passing the middle years of my life, I see wrinkles and lines that were not part of my face at the beginning of my life. I see grey thinning hair and aging spots on my skin. When I smile, there are gaps where teeth once were. As I pause to think of this verse tonight-I honestly can not picture myself as being fit to be presented to God as a radiant member of His church-His bride-holy and blameless. I can picture a pot that He has put His light in to shine through the cracks but a radiant bride is a huge stretch of the imagination.
As I was pondering this, I began thinking of a friend of mine who makes the most exquisite quilts. The most beautiful quilts she has made have been fashioned out of numerous small bits of scrap fabric that most people would find useless. She is able to match colors together,create a design,cut and then sew stitches to turn these useless scraps into a beautifully designed quilt. Separately they were nothing, but sewn together by the quiltmaker, they become something new and useful-a beautiful work of art-of great value and worth.This is a good example of what God does for each of us- who on our own,may not seem to be worth much or beautiful or useful but placed together in His church, we become people who are whole,connected,useful and a radiantly beautiful bride fit for the King. God loves us and we are of value to Him-together we become His beautiful bride-purchased with the sacrifice of His own Son,washed in the blood of the Lamb and clothed in white robes-without spot or blemish. We have a purpose and a hope and a future and that is what matters most. After all the scars from the suffering endured throughout our lives, we have a beauty that shines from within so that in His eyes,we are radiant. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder!! Love covers a multitude of sins. God sees our scars and loves us anyway!! Thanking Him for His love that exchanged freedom for captivity,a crown of beauty for ashes,oil of gladness for mourning and a garment of praise for a spirit of despair.(Isaiah 61:1-3)
Sue Holmes says:March 6, 2015 at 9:30 am
Susan, I think we have the same mirror. Just when I thought that maybe mine was defective. 😮
I love your analogy of the quilt making process being similar to the way God sews the Christian body together to form a bride for His Son. What I may look at as rags fit for nothing but cleaning, polishing or the garbage heap He sees as an intricate, all important part of the bride of Christ … something of immense value.
The Apostle Paul, referring to his own skill in tentmaking, wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:5, “Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God”. He referred to our earthly body as a tent that we inhabit & compared it to the heavenly house that God was making. He saw God as the Master architect making something immense & beautiful compared to his own tents which I’m sure were top quality themselves. I’m reminded of your friend, taking all the ‘useless’ scraps of fabric and fashioning something beautiful with them. Her exquisite work was once a pile of rags. God’s bride for His Son (pure, spotless & wrinkle-free) was once a pile of discarded people (defiled, sin-stained & useless).
Thank you for this vivid illustration to start an East coast morning off with. 🙂
Pat McRae says:March 6, 2015 at 11:27 am
Great verse, I guess they are all great verses, but this is the one for today! Recently God asked me a question. This time it was an easy question to answer. The question was: “Does your robe of righteousness have spots, wrinkles, holes in it?” Answer in seconds: “No of course not You wouldn’t give me something like that to wear.” Second question: ” are you wearing that robe of righteousness?” Answer: ” Your Word says if I am saved I am clothed in it, so yes I am wearing the robe of righteousness.” Last question: “Then why don’t you see yourself as I see you?”
Hearse! Hearse! Hearse! How can I a sinner be without spot or wrinkle I wondered. You see we are taught we are forgiven, and God sees us as He sees Jesus. After salvation we are His child, born into the family of God. And then we are told we are worms, sinners, filthy in God’s sight. Now really let’s just take a minute to explore this. Either I am a sinner or I am saved, but I can not be both. God sees me like Jesus, washed in the blood, redeemed form the curse, sanctified, justified but with spots and wrinkles? No, people we are either holy and righteous like Him or we are not. Jesus died at Calvary, He rose again to present what, a church without spot or wrinkle. Ok, let’s look at this! If I stand before God and He sees Jesus, and I am in Jesus and He is in me, because by faith I have received Him as my Saviour, is He standing there with spots or wrinkles? Of course not!
Salvation is a free gift, received by faith, without works. It is grace that has saved us and not we ourselves. When I think I Have to do something, then I am saying, “Jesus thank you for the gift, how much does it cost me? Here let me see myself like a worm unworthy of the gift, oh ya and here let me cry out day and night for forgiveness. Surely this will help You make me clean. How absolutely rude and dishonouring.
If I can except healing by standing in a healing line and doing nothing, if I can except provision by asking God and receiving, then why can I not receive salvation(without spot or wrinkle) here and now. We need as a church to stand up out of the traditions of men that have caused us to lose sight of who we truly are and be that glorious church He paid such a high price for.
Today I am thankful I am part of the glorious church, spotless, wrinkle free, dressed in the robe of righteousness and crowned with the crown of life. I am thankful that Jesus knowing my frailties paid the full price for me for such a wonderful gift. My salvation is a gift, a gift does not come with a payment plan, if it does it is not a gift it is an obligation. It is FREELY given! I am thankful I was wise enough to receive this gift, to cherish all that it entails and that I am not required to add to it.
May I never offend my Saviour by believing I need to do something more for my salvation then what Jesus did for me at Calvary!
Susan Craig says:March 6, 2015 at 7:28 pm
I agree with you Pat, that salvation is a gift of grace that we are offered and that we accept thankfully knowing who we have been before and who we now are all because of Jesus. But as long as we live this life on this earth, we groan because of the sin that still exists in our world and we suffer for our testimony and for standing up for what we believe. We pray for those whom we love that have not yet accepted this gift of salvation. We battle Satan and his demons. We battle our flesh. And we look forward to the day when our mortal bodies are exchanged for immortal ones. Paul in Romans 7 goes into great lengths to describe the battle we fight this side of Heaven. In God’s eyes, we are covered in the blood of Jesus, and He sees all that we will be-totally sanctified-but in our eyes, we only see thru a mirror darkly and we only know in part.(1 Cor.13:12) We are still battling the world,the flesh and the devil. But as Hebrews 12 says, consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men lest we be weary and faint in our minds because we have not yet resisted to the point of death in our striving against sin. (Hebrews12) To ignore the battle is not wise but we need to fix our eyes on Jesus who triumphed over satan,sin and death-this is the key to victory-because Jesus is our Victor and goes before us and with us into battle. We are not defeated-we are on the winning side and are victors because of Jesus-but we are not yet what we will be.
Pat McRae says:March 7, 2015 at 12:13 pm
Thank you Susan, but I have not left the battle field 🙂 I stand in full armour, sword drawn and shield up. What I know is who I am in Christ. I am today right now sanctified, justified, because of Calvary. I have authority, power and the presence of Almighty God as I battle the enemy. I refuse to be sin conscious I am God conscious and I am a winner! Secret: I read the last chapter of the Book it says so. I love you my sister and I hope we can agree to disagree on this one 🙂
Susan Craig says:March 7, 2015 at 4:36 pm
Divide and conquer is Satan’s tactics- never my intention. There is room for diversity in God’s Kingdom my friend and sister-Love is the glue that binds us all together in Christ. 🙂 Blest be this tie that binds!!! <3
Sue Holmes says:March 7, 2015 at 2:21 am
Today’s scripture paints such a wonderful picture of the relationship between Christ & the Church. The ultimate goal … a bride for the Son of God. Not just any bride, but the perfect bride described in Ephesians 5:27.
“love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (vs 25 – 27)
Before there is a bride there usually is a courtship … some evidence & promise of caring, protection & love on part of the groom. Scripture is full of evidence of God preparing this bride for His Son.
“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” – Psalm 139:16
“Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands.” – Psalm 119:73
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” – Psalm 139:14
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” – 1 John 3:16
There isn’t a moment that I was out of the sight of God. There isn’t a moment that God didn’t love me. There isn’t a moment that all the things of God were not available to me. There isn’t a moment that He wasn’t preparing me to take my place as His bride. There isn’t a moment that He wasn’t beckoning me to the banqueting table.
But, when I look at myself I see someone presently very imperfect, at times soiled and with a few wrinkles. How can this be the bride He described in Ephesians 5:27? Because, I am a work in progress. He sees me as the finished work, His perfect bride but He also sees my daily struggles, doubts and flaws. He knew each time that I would stumble & fall, He saw each of my blemishes, and yet He still saw me as a radiant bride. His love brings about that radiance!
I am grateful that God sees the final picture. I am grateful that my story isn’t finished. I am grateful that I have a future as the Bride of Christ. I am grateful that I get to go to my Groom’s house, prepared for me while I was still in the womb.
Most importantly, I am grateful for a love so great that my God & Saviour would give His life in order for me to gain my place as His bride. I am grateful for Christ & His presence alone.