Most bridal departments are well staffed with consultants who politely prevent the general public from aimlessly browsing through the wedding gowns with dirty hands. Instead, the gowns are carefully selected for the bride-to-be according to her size and specifications. I was young and naive when my parents marched me into several of these shops to select the perfect dress for my wedding day. What should have been a fun-filled experience, accompanied by laughter and giddiness, turned out to be just plain deflating!
I must have tried on 30 dresses in one afternoon, only to feel like the ugliest bride on earth! Nevertheless, the well-intentioned consultants tried to convince me otherwise. “Oh, this one will look beautiful on you!” One consultant brought forth an enormous batch of fluffiness in three colors: white, off-white, and ecru. The latter two colors, off-white and ecru, made me look pale and sickly—like death warmed over. But my ghostly appearance didn’t bother the expert who said, “You look stunning in this one! Honestly, you look radiant!”
I don’t know how many times I said, “I’m looking for something tailored. I don’t want anything frilly. Oh, and I really don’t think off-white or ecru does anything for my complexion. Let’s just stick with white.”
Store after store, batches of gowns were selected on my behalf—in all three colors of fluffiness and pouf! The various consultants seemed to be in agreement. “You never know what you might like until you try them on, dear.” But I could tell by looking at them! If I thought they were ugly on the hanger, how could I not feel ugly in them? I didn’t need to put them on my body to figure out that I didn’t want to wear them—EVER—especially not on my wedding day!
Stick with me. The story has a point.
A few days later, on my lunch hour, I drove to a small, lesser-known bridal shop. I asked the owner, “Could I just look at your selection since I don’t have time to try them on?” “Certainly,” she smiled! “Help yourself.” As I was browsing through the gowns, I explained my deflating ordeal over enormous amounts of fluff and how sick I looked in ecru. She sympathized saying, “It’s the trend these days.”
Just then, I saw it. I quickly pulled it off of the rack and said, “This is it! This is the dress for me.” Within 15 minutes of entering the shop, I was standing in front of a mirror . . . seeing the image of the bride I wanted to be.
Now I can make my point!
I write today for the church of tomorrow. The bride of Christ, as she is sometimes called, desperately needs to be clothed in a proper wedding dress! This is no small matter. Selecting the appropriate dress for the bride of Christ is something that we, as God’s people, should be concerned about. After all, the image that the church reveals to the world will determine how the church is received by the world.
The church’s image matters!
Currently, the church of today is clothed in attire that has been chosen for her by the world’s well-intentioned bridal consultants. Does the church feel beautiful, or is she being told that she is beautiful by people who want her to like the dress that has been chosen for her by the bridal consultants? There’s a huge difference between telling a bride that she looks beautiful and knowing that the bride actually feels beautiful!
Regarding the church’s image in the world, it could be that she is wearing a dress that isn’t right for her wedding day. Perhaps the bride of Christ has become convinced that the dress she longs to wear to the wedding banquet will never be discovered. Perhaps she continues to search for the perfect dress, knowing that she hasn’t found it yet!
If we stop to think about it, Jesus spoke of the exact image that he envisioned for his bride: the kingdom of heaven is like a net. The image of a net may not be our idea of a beautiful wedding gown, but the image of a net was beautiful to Jesus. The image of a net contains no fluffiness or layers of pouf. It is a tailored image of horizontal and vertical organizational lines. Hence, the bride of Christ must be clothed in a net of horizontal and vertical lines if she is to feel pretty.
These are structural issues. The church’s image in the world is linked to the way she organizes herself. We simply must discover the dress that Jesus chose for his bride. I’m certain that the bride of Christ will feel beautiful if she is clothed as a net.(See The Net – an Organizational Vision for the Church of Tomorrow)
Thoughts along the way,
Carol Wimmer is the author of the acclaimed poem When I say I am a Christian, and three books entitled: The Net—An Organizational Vision for the Church of Tomorrow; The Clock—A Timekeeping Tool for the Church of Tomorrow; and The Key—A Spiritual Language for the Church of Tomorrow