I love the Church because God loved her enough to die for her (Ephesians 5:1, 25). Jesus knew perfectly well the ugliness and depravity of mankind... and yet he came anyway. He experienced hate, rage, rejection, violence... and yet he chose to die anyway. He knew that the ugly and depraved would be made beautiful and righteous because of His suffering and sacrifice.
Aren't "before" and "after" pictures so much more meaningful when the "before" was truly horrible? Jesus paid it all, with the "after" in mind. The Church is beautiful, not of her own merit, but by God's grace and favor. Those who once were dead in spirit, isolated from both man and God, became alive and reconciled to God and man.
God shows this new life and reconciliation through the amazing image of a Body in which Christ is the head and every Christ-follower is a body part (Rom. 12:4-8). This image is preceded by an incredible prophecy, thousands of years before Romans was written; Ezekiel 37 tells the story of dry bones becoming flesh, and flesh becoming spirit-filled. God prophecied through Ezekiel to remind his people of his promises - that he would not cut them off entirely, that they would be given land, and that he would put his own spirit in them. As believers in Christ, we have been grafted into these promises (Rom. 11:11-24). We have been given God's Spirit, and have been resurrected from "dry bones" to a spirit-filled body with Christ as our head.
I ask you: what can be more beautiful than the dead coming to life, than the outcast being reconciled, than being grafted into the most incredible promise ever made? Church, we are part of something more beautiful than we know.
How is the Church beautiful to you?