“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:25-27)
We wake up every morning and go through the same ritual: brush our teeth, comb our hair, wash our face, etc. Our appearance is so important to us that it constitutes the majority of our morning ritual. At the very least, we will spend five minutes each morning staring at ourselves in the mirror. If that were not enough, there is the occasional glance whenever we pass a mirror, any mirror. Almost automatic in its occurrence, we do not even realize we are doing it until we have already done it. Even then we barely even register the fact; so natural our action has become.
The attention we give our appearance is intensified if we see something that does not belong on our face. The sight of a pimple, or even a spot not fully formed, will have us pressing, poking, prodding the suspect area until we have the sight red and swollen. As we continue our investigation throughout the day in an attempt to monitor the progression of the aberration, we may resort to digging into the spot with a needle or razor. We know that there is a hair, a splinter, something, inside of this THING that must come out. We are so relentless in our determination, that we often do more damage than necessary to remove the blemish from our face.
This sort of narcissistic attention is also given to the clothes we wear. Everyone has a favorite pair of pants or that special shirt that we take such good care of. It becomes our first priority. We want to ensure our clothes look the best they can. We labor over a pair of boots for hours just to get that perfect shine. The least little bit of dirt or grime is grounds for investing even more time in them so that they do not have dirt on them when we walk on dirt.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to present one’s self in the most favorable light. It is just that it borders on a level of pre-occupation. Any little stain becomes the target of a full-scale war on dirt. We can not let up. We can not give in. The enemy has been identified and it must be defeated! While we may not have yet reached this level of obsession, the fact is that we will do whatever we can do in order to prevent or remove stains on our shirts, spots on our pants, dirt on our shoes, and blemishes on our faces.
But what about the stains, spots, dirt, and blemishes that tarnish our testimony? Does our manner of living reflect the same care for our appearance when it comes to our Christian walk as it does for our worldly walk? Our Lord Jesus Christ has paid our sin-debt on the cross at Calvary. He has clothed us in garments white as snow. While we are thus clothed in robes of righteousness, do we work to maintain this image before men? Or do we defile ourselves through unclean living and unclean associations?
Our testimony as Christians is of the utmost importance because we are ambassadors for Christ. We are His representatives. Being clothed in Christ entails putting off “…the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” (Ephesians 4:22). Rather than neglect, our testimony should reflect an attention that surpasses the attention paid to our outward man. It is the ultimate goal of our Lord to cleanse us from all unrighteousness and present us to Himself without blemish. He has paid the debt for our sin. Isaiah 1:16-18 is a command to put away the evil of our doings and cease there from. Although our “sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18b)
As Christians, we should remember that our first priority is to present Jesus Christ to the world. We can not do this with a bad testimony. Our tarnished image often precedes us and lingers behind us, overshadowing our witness. Having therefore received the injunction to be “holy in all manner of conversation” (1 Peter 1:15), let us remember to do so, for when our testimony matches our witness, we bring glory to Christ as a Bride without blemish.