Monday, December 8, 2014

The Dress

Wedding Dress.jpgWhen you were a little girl, did you envision your wedding day? I know you thought of husbands, flowers, streamers and cakes. Yet nothing touches the dress for making a bride feel her most beautiful. Brides go all out for those dresses.  They try a hundred on looking for the perfect one.  They beg their dads to write checks for them.  They pick the perfect material, the perfect cut, in short the perfect dress.   Take a moment and remember (or if you're single imagine) your wedding dress.

Was it white?  Satin and lace?  Was there a train, a veil, sleeves?  I guarantee you've not forgotten.

John never forgot the day he was privileged to hear a description of the wedding dress of the church-the bride of Christ.  It was white, bright and clean, made of the finest linen - woven not from threads of flax but from the "righteous acts of the saints."
Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, "Write, `Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'"(Revelation 19:7-9).
This is situated in the midst of John's vision of the destruction of the great beast (most likely Rome).  In the vision he shoots forward in time to the moment when the church will be married like a bride to her husband Christ.  There must be some amazing way in which we, the church, are as beautiful, as pure, and as a beloved as a bride on her wedding day. 

And what makes her beautiful?  Her dress! The Bride of Christ is clothed in righteous acts. 

The church is robed in casseroles thrown together and rushed to the house of the sick or grieving. Her dress is crafted with those little popsicle sticks from VBS that the kids used to learn about the cross.  It is decorated with food offered to the hungry and childcare offered to desperate parents.

Although it is a funny picture, all these things are the kinds of "righteous acts" that saints do.  Most of the time when we think of the word righteousness, we think either the righteousness God gave us that we could have never earned or something like self-righteousness, a priggish and prideful state. Yet here John seems to have neither in mind. He's not thinking of prayer, which he in other places imagines as incense, nor worship which is offered in the previous verses by both the elders and the Angels, but the good deeds that Christians do. 

We've been talking a lot around here about making a difference.  Not in big splashy ways (although if you're thinking big, we're in!), but in the small ways that keep a church running, that enable evangelism, and that make us truly the family of God.  Yet I wonder if we think enough about why we do them.  

Every bride envisions her husband's joy at seeing her the first time in that beautiful dress.  Do we envision the joy we'll bring our Bridegroom when he sees the good we did in his name and for his pleasure?

Churches are not beautiful because of their multi-million dollar campus, family life centers, or high class decorations.  Churches are beautiful when the people there love each other, when they go out of their way to help each other.  A young mom gets to listen to a lesson because a friend tends the baby.  Older women band together to help a new widow. Faced with disasters churches pour resources out to the afflicted. And our church is transformed into a thing of awe-inspiring beauty, worthy to be the very Bride of Christ. We do these make-a-difference-things for a thousand reasons but one simple one is that these righteous acts make us beautiful to our betrothed.

Think about it the next time you're bringing food to the sick, offering hospitality to the lonely, or visiting the shut in. You are one small part of the bride making herself beautiful for her wedding day!


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