Most bridal departments are well staffed with consultants. These women politely prevent the general public, who might have dirty hands, from aimlessly browsing through the wedding gowns. Instead, the gowns are carefully selected for the bride-to-be, by the consultants. I was young and naive when my parents took me to several of these upscale bridal shops. They wanted to help me 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 puffiness! The various consultants seemed to be in agreement. “Oh, my dear, you never know what you might like, until you try them on.” But I could tell by looking at them! If I thought a dress was ugly on the hanger, how could I not feel ugly wrapped in it? I didn’t need to put it on my body to figure out that I didn’t want to wear it—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, “May 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, “Ecru is 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 stood in front of a mirror, seeing the image of the bride I knew myself 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 wearing a proper wedding dress! This is no small matter. Selecting the appropriate dress for the bride of Christ, is something that Christians should be concerned about. After all, the image that the church reveals in the world, will determine how the church is received by the world.
The church’s image matters!
Currently, the church of today is wearing a dress selected for her, by well-intentioned bridal consultants. Does the church feel beautiful? Or, is she being told that she is beautiful, by the consultants who want the church to accept the dress they’ve selected, on her behalf?
There’s a huge difference between telling a bride that she looks beautiful, and knowing that the bride actually feels beautiful!
The church is currently dressed in a manner that isn’t right for her wedding day. Her image needs to change. Perhaps the bride of Christ has become convinced, that the garment she longs to wear to the wedding banquet, will never be discovered. Perhaps she continues to search for the perfect bridal image, because she knows she hasn’t found it yet!
If we stop to think about it, Jesus spoke of the exact look that he envisioned for his bride. “The kingdom of heaven is like a net, Matthew 13:47.
Jesus gave us a visual analogy to consider when creating the kingdom of heaven on earth. Is the image of a net simply a concept contained in one of Jesus’s parables? Or, does the image of a net have literal organizational implications?
Fishing nets are made from all different colors of twine. When cast out over spiritual waters, nets can become filled with fish of every color, size, and kind. But the construction of a fishing net is the same, all over the world.
A net contains no fluffiness or puffiness. It is a simple image, made of horizontal and vertical ropes, knotted together for strength and purpose.
As an organizational model, the net fishes for people who are willing to be caught for positions of leadership in the net. These captured fish then become the souls that knot the net together, for strength and purpose. Each person knotting the net together, would ultimately bring their colorful selves into leadership. Once a net is knotted, it is then ready for its mission of being the kingdom of heaven on earth.
The image of a fishing net may not be our idea of a beautiful wedding gown for the bride of Christ, but the image was beautiful to Jesus. Hence, the bride of Christ must be dressed like a net, if she is to feel pretty on her wedding day.
These are structural issues. The church’s image in the world, is linked to the way she organizes herself for strength and purpose. We simply must discover the dress that Jesus chose for his bride, 2,000 years ago. Let’s look for ways to organize like a net.