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I put my son to bed, and went through the routine. "I love you, I love mommy, I love your brothers, etc." Then he stopped, looked up at me, and asked, "What about my Teddy, don't you love my Teddy?" I looked over at a tattered, dingy, stuffed animal that was on it's last leg quite literally. I paused as I looked at the lifeless bear so limp and beat, and then to my son's wide eye anticipation as he held his breath, waiting for my response.

Finally, after an awkward silence, I replied, "Yes, I love your Teddy too." He smiled and happily settled onto his pillow clutching his teddy to his chest. He snuggled into his warm blanket comfortably as I tucked him in.

As he fell asleep, I looked at him and his Teddy. What If I had replied "No, I don't love your Teddy. It's just an old stuffed animal that is about to fall apart. Besides, I love you, not your bear." My son would have been crushed. It would have been the same as if I had said those things about him. I told him I loved his Teddy because my son loves his Teddy.

This made me reflect on Jesus and his relationship to his church. No Biblical writer ever writes anything ugly about the church. The church is always spoken of in endearing terms. Yes, the church had problems to deal with, but the Biblical writers did not degrade the church because of it.

Jesus loves his "Teddy", an old ragged animal. There may be an eye missing. It may be tattered. It may even have been broken open from time to time only to be re-stuffed and repaired. But the church is most wonderful to our Lord Jesus. The Bible refers to the church of Christ in this way:

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church-- for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:25-32)."

We may look at the church and see all kinds of stains, wrinkles, blemishes, tears, etc. But according to this, Jesus sees only a holy and blameless church, one that he has "repaired" by the washing of water through the word. Let's remember this the next time we down ourselves for our blemishes. Let's see the church as Christ sees it the next time we trash the church, and remember that even though we are not perfect, we are forgiven.

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