We’ve all been in the same awkward position. Someone hands us a picture of a baby or holds out their little bundle of joy and says, “Isn’t she the cutest baby you’ve ever seen?” It’s one of those times when we all lie rather than give our true opinion. Their little bundle of joy looks like a cross between some alien species, an old man and a prune. You’re thinking, “when she was born, the doctor most likely slapped her mother.”
I always wonder if the parents are deluded or if they truly think their little critter is cute. Maybe they are just playing a joke on us? The best man in my wedding used to carry a picture of an ugly girl in his wallet to pull out whenever people would ask about his girlfriend. He loved to watch their reaction. Is that it?
My three kids were all very cute babies. At least, I think they were. They certainly were adorable to me. But how do I know they weren’t “breath-taking” like the baby on Seinfeld? Nah … they were definitely cute.
It has to be the love that parents have for their kids that make them so beautiful in their eyes. The perspective of the viewer is what brings beauty.
That has to be what’s at work when Jesus looks at the church and sees it as a beautiful bride. It’s His love that makes the church beautiful to Him. He sees it as precious.
I look at the church, myself, my friends and see all the imperfections. I see the squabbles, the insecurity, the legalism and selfishness and think, “Ick. We’re a mess!” But, because of God’s Grace, He looks at the same picture and smiles and His heart explodes with fondness.
I see the church fighting about being emergent, conservative, fundamental or liberal and wonder what we’re doing. We fight about when Jesus is going to return (even though he told us no one knows when). We fight about speaking in tongues and being “spirit-filled.” We fight about music, what version of the bible is acceptable, predestination and how long it took God to make the universe. We fight about politics and appoint certain candidates as God’s choice while others, if elected, are the anti-Christ. We gather in tight societies of people who think just like us and then, when something eventually divides us, we start church shopping again for a better group of people where we claim we “can be fed.”
And Jesus looks on us as a beautiful bride while the Father calls us the apple of His eye. God’s grace is a mystery. It takes the ugly and makes it beautiful.
We’re an ugly baby but our Father sees us as truly beautiful.