Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. – ESV
No Spot Or Wrinkle?
Looking across the religious landscape these days, around the world, it seems a stretch to think that Jesus is preparing a bride for Himself without spot or wrinkle. Or holy and without blemish. All we see is the deterioration of morals and standards within church perimeters in increasing measures. With this being the case, and having been the case for a few decades at least, it is difficult to imagine Christ’s church as a whole fitting the illustration laid out above.
But it’s in the Bible, so it’s true. It’s made me pause and reflect at times on what all must transpire to bring this about. But I’ve come to realize it is happening right now. If we follow the pattern of God’s hand throughout church history, it should come as no surprise to us that His work flies under the mainstream radar many times.
And so it is with His bride today. Though mainstream Christianity seems a bit stale and lukewarm and not very concerned about spot or wrinkle contaminating them, Jesus is forging His true bride with intense heat from the fire of the Spirit. He is burning away chaff, hammering what the fire has made soft and placing saints into molds that reshape them completely. Much of this work goes unnoticed by the world and even by large portions of the church. But those who are interested, can find God’s hand moving in mighty ways among those who are willing to endure.
Wheat & Tares
In this age, the wheat is still growing with the tares, and many times it seems the tares are reproducing faster than the wheat. However, we are not qualified to judge this matter in detail, which is why we are told to let the tares grow with the wheat lest we pull the wheat by accident. All we can go by at this point are general impressions.
But there is coming a day when all that is hazy to us will become stark and clear. The dividing line between the false bride and the true is hard to distinguish now since they are rubbing elbows all the time in fellowship. But there will be a separation that will leave a vast chasm between the two at some point.
Are we willing to separate from a lukewarm faith and receive molding and chiseling and fire? Are we willing to be cleansed, day in and day out, ‘by the washing of water with the word’? It is an unglamorous proposition that produces no value on the surface. People with no spiritual discernment will look at us and scratch their heads and perhaps even scoff. But what is forming on the inside of us is priceless. It is work that will continue, by Him who is faithful, until we are left without spot or wrinkle.
And in that moment when Jesus presents us as His finished work, we will wonder how we failed to notice the beauty before. We miss it because it is produced in the mundane things of life. Hidden in the routines of our day. If we commit each day to His use, He will not let it go to waste, no matter how trivial our activities seem. So if we value the eternal over the temporal, the holy over the carnal and purity more than spot or wrinkle, produced by fleeting pleasures, we will embrace the process. For its vindication is coming, and we will see the bride of Christ in all her radiant beauty.