Remember Linus? He’s a character from Charles Schulz’ classic comic, Peanuts. Every character in Peanuts is unique, and so is Linus. Because for Linus, he is virtually never separated from his closet companion: his trademark dirty blanket.
The blanket (never washed) has been through every where. Sometimes, it is buried in the ground. Others, it is in Snoopy’s mouth in the dog’s attempt to steal it from Linus. To the other children (especially Lucy), the blanket is seen as an abhorrent piece of filth. But despite where its been, it is kept safe and secure in the possession of its lover, Linus.
We are that blanket.
You see, if there is anything made remarkably clear in Scripture, it is the sin of man. Your sin, and mine. Paul quotes from Psalms: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together, they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” – Romans 3:10b-11, ESV
If we are truly fair about ourselves and use the Bible as the proper measure for our condition, we would arrive at the same conclusion as the Psalmist Paul quoted. Worthless, unrighteous, and rebellious. Dirty, torn, and useless. Much like a dirty blanket.
Now, let grace enter.
What gives that trademark dirty blanket its value? It can only be one thing: the affection of Linus. While the other children see the blanket as simply a dirty blanket, Linus sees much more. With utter affection, he attributes to the cloth something outside of itself: true value and sentiment. To Linus, it is so much more than a dirty blanket; it is treasure. So valuable, he goes to the very end to save it from those who try to take it from him.
Such is the love of Christ.
What gives the Church its value? It is not our charity, our theology, our mission. It is not the size of our congregation, or the number of old ladies we help carry grocery bags to the car. It is not how much we give from our pockets, or how many times out of the week we are able to resist our habitual sins.
It can only be one thing: the divine and boundless affection of Jesus.
While the world may see the Church as a collective of hypocrites, low-lifes, and close-minded people, the Father sees much more. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” – John 1:12. The Father sees every believer clothed in the righteousness of Jesus. And how is that possible? Paul writes: “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
Now, we are not simply a dirty blanket. No, we are much more. Not because we have proven ourselves in anyway that we deserve value, but because Someone thought to give us great value. Enough to suffer and die for us. For you. For me.
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, relish that the Beholder is none but the matchless Jesus Christ. This Jesus is the one to whom the highest name and position and glory and power is given. He is the most valuable One, loved infinitely and completely and utterly by the Father.
And this same Jesus prayed for you. Read what He prays about you and me: “I in them and you in me, that they mat become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” – John 17:23. The dirty blanket is given the very same love and affection from the Father that He gives to Jesus. We are loved infinitely and completely and utterly by God.
“My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart,
I know that while in Heav’n He stands,
No tongue can bid me thence depart.”
– “Before the Throne,” Charitie L. Bancroft