Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
- Ephesians 5:25-27
Paul tells us that the Church as a whole is the Bride of Christ. Jewish tradition shows that when a man became engaged to his bride, he would then leave her to go and prepare the place where he was going to bring her. Traditionally this period took about a year from the moment of engagement. We could say that we as the Church are in this engagement period with Christ. He has purchased for us a wedding ring with His blood and He has now gone to prepare a place for us. The problem is the world has been spending all this time trying to get us to break our engagement.
They have a ring of their own and they hold it up high and claim that the one they have is the real thing. They want us to believe that what they are offering is the ring that the Bride is really after. The truth however, is that what the world is offering is nothing more than an imitation. If Jesus has purchased us a diamond then the world is offering a cubic zirconia.
A cubic zirconia is a man made stone that is sold as an imitation diamond. It looks pretty close to a diamond. It sparkles like one and can be cut to look just like one. It can even be put into the same ring setting as a diamond but at the end of the day, it's no diamond. A 1 carat natural cut diamond is worth roughly $20,000 and a 1 carat cut cubic zirconia is worth less than $20. The real thing costs and if you were going to purchase it, then you would have to sacrifice to get it. The imitation is much easier to find and requires next to no sacrifice in order to obtain it.
The biggest problem today is that the Church doesn't offer the diamond to the world. They look at what the world is offering, try to copy it, and then offer the Christian version of it to the lost. What is ultimately made is an imitation of an imitation. We (the Church) are really offering the lost members of the Bride of Christ nothing more than a plastic ring that has no real value at all.
I watch my young daughters and they have a blast dressing up with plastic jewelry. However, I know that as they get older, eventually they aren't going to be satisfied with plastic jewelry anymore. There will come a day when they start to understand the value of the real thing and the imitations won't look as nice anymore. The same thing happens in the Church. New Christians are wooed in with flashy plastic jewelry and they find some satisfaction putting it on and dressing the part. Then, as time goes by, they grow up and realize that there must be something more to all of this. The plastic ring they started with can't be all there is. Can it? They struggle because what the world has looks so much better. It's shinier and flashier. It is obviously worth far more than what they've been given.
What do you think happens then? If they are never shown the real thing, the diamond that Jesus purchased for us, then they walk away from the plastic ring and take the cubic zirconia of the world. We have to see that the Cross of Calvary purchased far more than we have been offering to the lost. Let's stop imitating the imitation and start looking to the one who bought the diamond. Let's start offering the same thing that He offered us.
"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.
- John 15:13
It's going to be hard. It's going to cost us. It's going to require sacrifice.
It's going to change the world.
Phillip Reed is the Associate Pastor of Faith Chapel Ministries. His passion is to reconcile the lost to their Heavenly Father.