Recently, a friend of mine was talking about the church as a body, and how that body will become the Bride of Christ. My friend made the statement that; “it is Jesus who will determine what the bride is to look like, not us”. As my friend spoke these words, I saw a vision of a woman with breathtaking natural beauty dressed in a bridal gown. As she stood in her bridal attire she was approached by people intent on ‘improving’ her.
This stunning bride was primped and preened, polished and plied. She was given extensive plastic surgery to ‘enhance’ her features. The bride began to morph into something quite grotesque as more and more surgeries and tweaks were made by various people, all carrying out their ideas on how to make her more appealing.
What remained was an image that could quite easily have come straight from the pages of a gossip magazine; ‘When plastic surgeries go wrong!’. Stretched out eyes, plumped up lips, huge protruding chin, a bust completely disproportionate to her frame, and make-up that would fill the heart of any clown with envy.
It was a heartbreaking and sickening sight to behold, to have watched someone so naturally beautiful become so contorted by worldly, popular ideals.
This image reminded me of a bible verse, which I have chosen to share with you from The Message version, as I believe there is something quite poignant about the way it is expressed (In fact, the whole chapter is well worth reading):
“…For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair? (1 Corinthians 12:19-24 MSG)”
Our job is to ensure that honour is cultivated toward all members of the body, and that through this, a healthy balance is introduced, not an out of proportion monstrosity.
In cultivating this honour, we must make sure that the gospel we’re reading, the gospel we’re preaching, isn’t the same one we’re rejecting.
What do I mean?
Jesus revealed Himself to the outcasts of society. Those who were frowned upon, despised and judged most harshly by society, were the very same ones who had face to face, life-changing encounters with Him.
So often, I come across people whose lives aren’t sparkling examples of prosperity or beauty, their mental health has taken a beating and they’ve found themselves in compromising positions. But my word, do these people grasp not just the concept of grace, unconditional love and acceptance, but the actual experience of it!
Yet sadly, it is all too common that these people are hidden away instead of celebrated. Hidden, because they don’t fit the ‘mould’.
Why do they make us so very uncomfortable?
What did we really think that the verse below meant?
“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” (I Corinthians 1:27-29 NKJV)
As Easter approaches for another year, I’d love you to read the Easter story in light of just how much of a grace-filled scandal it was; the outcasts of society, the women who had no social credibility, a man who denied Jesus in His darkest hour, a bunch of fishermen, these were the people given the task of spreading His message and ensuring it was heard throughout the ages!
I don’t know about you, but considering we’re still talking about Jesus to this day, I’m thinking they did a pretty good job.
Why then, would God change His modus operandi just because we’re uncomfortable with the concept, just because we’re more at ease with polished, primped, preened and tweaked?