Ode to the Church

By David mathis Found at http://www.desiringgod.org/

Ode to the Church

There she stands in splendor, secure on the arm of her Father, adorned in brilliant white for her husband. The music sounds and beckons their short passage down the aisle.

Once she had been disgraced and dirty, unholy and seemingly unlovable. Now she walks without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. Now she moves in spectacular holiness, beautiful and without blemish.

She played the hellion and the whore. She had followed the course of the world as a daughter of disobedience. She was dead in her trespasses and sins. But her Father, ever rich in mercy, loved her with an extraordinary love. He brought her new life by his powerful word, the gospel of her salvation, in which he made the deepest revelation of his heart and demonstrated the greatness of his affection. She was born anew, not to temporal life, but eternal, through his living and abiding word. She breathes as a creation of his breath.

And so she has been sustained by his word, and molded and shaped by his message. Her existence in the world has been for his voice’s advance and defense.

Now every step down the aisle is steady and sure.

But it has not always been so. She has stumbled many times before. There were terrible lapses. Her recovery had its ups and downs. The long engagement was an adventure, to say the least. Detractors came forward. Myriads mocked her; countless accused her. Many didn’t believe in her, or underestimated her, or thought she’d never last.

But in every imperfection and indiscretion, in every slip and mistake and outright sin, in every trying disgrace and shame, she has endured as her Father’s own household. She is a pillar and buttress of his truth. In her weakness, he strengthened her to hold up his message in the sight of the nations, and proclaim it for all to hear. In her frailness, he empowered her to lean against the walls, keep them pressed in, and protect his message against distortion and compromise and collapse.

She has withstood the test of time, even when winds and waves have taken their toll. She has endured as a servant of the word, not its master. By this word, she has come through dangers, toils, and snares.

And now on this Great Day, she is presented in unparalleled majesty.

Her Groom stitched the gown himself. He loved her and gave himself up for her, and made her holy, washing her with his cleansing word. Other grooms would have given up long ago, but his patience was astounding; his relentless investment of energy, remarkable. His wide mercy has made him worthy of worship.

Now finishes a hymn greater than any ever heard. Now she meets him at the center, prepared, adorned, shining with the very glory of God. Now the Father gives his own Son to her as head over all things.

No eye is dry, for joy. Every tear of sadness is wiped away. Death is no more. Neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain. The former things have passed.

“Behold,” says the Groom, “I am making all things new.”

Based on Ephesians 1:13, 22; 3:20–21; 5:25–27; 2 Timothy 2:15; Titus 1:9; 1 Peter 1:23–25;James 1:18; and Revelation 21:4, 11.

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David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor at desiringGod.org and an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis. He has edited several books, including Thinking. Loving. Doing., Finish the Mission, and Acting the Miracle, and is co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary.