Husbands, love your wives, just as also Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, to make her holy, cleansing her in the washing of water by the word. He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:25-27
As hard as it is to imagine one single human (myself) being presented a trophy of grace, it is harder still to image a whole group of humans (my church and yours) presented as the spotless Bride of Christ. I myself am deeply flawed. Add me to a few hundred other folks, and you have more flaws than I’d care to count.
Yet Christ grouped us together into churches on purpose, every sinful one of us, and commanded us to love one another. He’ll one day gather all those local congregations into one beautiful Church, and he’ll present her to Himself in “splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and blameless.”
Do we deserve it? We Christians have fractured ourselves into denominations, and denominations square off against themselves in opposite political camps. Individual congregations bicker. It’s a common malady. American Christians singing in varnished pews, Chinese Christians whispering in darkened houses, and African Christians banging drums under mango trees – all of us sin. And the answer is no, we don’t deserve to be the Bride of Christ.
And that brings us right back to grace. Why is the Church, the bride of Christ, spotless and wrinkle free? Why can we be presented in splendor? Because of Jesus’ death for us. He made us holy. And because he keeps washing us, urging us to follow his word, perfecting us until the day we are perfect – our wedding day.
Once again, his work, not ours.