I read a story a number of years ago about a man who bought some furniture and an old painting for $30. Obviously not particularly impressed with the painting of some flowers he used it to cover up a hole in the wall that had been irritating him.
A little while later while playing a board game called Masterpiece he noticed that one of the paintings in the game closely resembled the old painting he had placed over the hole in the wall. To cut a long story short, he was soon to find out that the painting was in fact an original by an artist called Heade and it was sold at auction for $1,2 million! Talk about being oblivious to treasure that is right in front of you.
What struck me when I first read this story was how as Christians we can be so oblivious to the incredible treasure that God has placed in his church. I mean we may know in theory but do we really believe and appreciate what power and authority has been placed in her! If we did it would completely change our spiritual posture.
It is so easy for us to begin to believe that the church is increasingly irrelevant, marginal, out of touch and needs to adapt to changing times otherwise it will disappear altogether. That somehow the church is a tolerated oddity and we just have to hang in there until Jesus returns!
Compare that to how God sees his church. In the Letter to the Ephesians the Apostle Paul makes the following outrageous statement: “The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.” Ephesians 1:23 (MSG)
God’s intention for his church is that she would shine like a city on a hill; that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places; that she would extend the Kingdom; that the whole earth would be impacted by this Bride as she proclaims and brings the Kingdom; that God would bless her as she blesses and that the whole earth would be blessed through her!! Is this the picture we have of the church? Is this the expectation we have of what our churches can do in our cities – atmosphere changes, Kingdom bringers? In God’s view there is nothing more powerful or influential in any city anywhere in the world than his church in that city because his church is the temple of the Holy Spirit – the place where heaven meats earth! “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Yes the Bride has blemishes and scars which we can identify with ease but she is beautiful to Jesus and she is his masterpiece and he wants to display her so that our city can see his glory – that our city would see his great, great love.