“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.” Ephesians 5:25-27
It all started as a casual internet friendship. I saw her picture on a certain website and fell in love with her immediately, and now we have a meaningful relationship. I am speaking, of course, of my family’s beloved pet dog, Lindy.
Lindy was picked up while wandering alone down a stretch of Missouri highway, and the particular breed she is (Brittany Spaniel) has a rescue organization that my wife and I contacted frequently as we were hoping to adopt a dog like Lindy into our family. We loved Lindy before Lindy even knew us. We made her a part of our family before she came home with us and lived with us. When the day at last came to pick Lindy up from the rescue organization and take her back home to live with us in St. Louis, we were so excited to have her riding between us in the front seat of our car. While gently petting Lindy, my wife noticed a small bump under her fur close to her eye. It was a tick! Over the course of the three-hour ride home, my wife proceeded to remove over 50 ticks from Lindy’s coat and body.
God, through his son Jesus, loves us much the same way. He sets his affection upon us before we even know Him. He is not turned away by the “ticks” and sin he encounters in our lives. He loves us through it all. In Ephesians 5: 25-27, Paul describes the quality of love Jesus has for his people:
Jesus loves his people sacrificially (gave himself up for her): For the longest time, I told my wife that she didn’t really want a dog, she just wanted someone with a dog to live nearby so that she could pet the dog when it was convenient for her. I argued that we did not want to assume all the responsibilities and hassles that come with ownership. Jesus laid down freedom and perfection of fellowship with the heavenly father in order to make us his own. He gave himself up in order to redeem us as his own. He counted the cost freely to make us his unique people.
Jesus loves his people completely: He loves us in the midst of our uncleanness from sin, in the midst of our rebellion from his word (not submitting to his ways), and in the midst of our blemished, spotted, wrinkled hearts due to sin. He loves us as we are and not as we should be. He loves us “ticks and all”.
Jesus loves his people purposefully: He wants to work out the reality of his redemption into all areas of our lives and remove completely all the lingering effects of the fall; He is working to remove all the spots and blemishes so that we can be beautiful once again without all the brokenness from sin.
So what does that mean for you today?
You do not have to hide your “ticks” and “blemishes” anymore. You do not have to sugarcoat your sin and failures, your repeated sins and repeated failures. You do not have to pretend that you have it all together. No more fear of exposure – honesty, freedom, joy in the imperfections, because you know that it is taken care of by Jesus. He is loving you well. He is making you beautiful through his love once again!