Paul and I are reading Bruxy Cavey's book The End of Religion over our coffee and oatmeal each morning. It's been on my bookshelf for a year or so and after hearing him speak in December I wanted to read more of what he had to say. So far we have come to the conclusion that the track record of the church in pursuit of "religion" over the years, has been pretty depressing, which is why these verses below always were a puzzle to me. Not the part about husbands loving their wives, or Christ loving the church, but the part about "the glorious church, without spot or wrinkle." I could see lots of spots and wrinkles and could understand his love for us only in the sense that "love is blind."
25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:25-27, King James Version)
But if the Church is not the beautiful and holy bride spoken of in verse 27 of Ephesians 5, why not?
Did God mean that only as he sees her "through Christ" is she "without spot or wrinkle?"
Is The Church going to be suddenly transformed at some point in the future? Or does verse 27 describe God's intent, for her, here and now?
In the preached messages and writings of Christians such as Watchman Nee, Oswald Chambers and Dietrich Bonhoeffer there is a consistent thread, as though through their voices and pens, God kept calling us to something higher; something that is possible; but not through our own strength, through his transforming power. The Bride is meant to be radiant. She is meant to attract with her beauty.
I think that the verse below from Corinthians means that the Holy Spirit wants to take up residence in us, and shine his light into every corner of our being that we will surrender to him.
1 Corinthians 6:19 (New International Version, ©2010)
19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;Our personality will not be obliterated or lost, but beautified by his infilling. He will soften the hard places, humble the proud places and replace selfishness with love for others.
2 Peter 1:5-8 (New International Version, ©2010)
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.