Many of us have read Victor Hugo’s, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, a classic, yet dark depiction of a physically deformed, socially rejected “orphan” whose name is Quasimodo. He is a grotesquely malformed person who has been relegated by society to merely ringing the bell at the great cathedral of Notre Dame, which subsequently caused his deafness. Of minimal verbal abilities, facial deformities, partial paralysis in his limbs and yes, the hunch in his back, he was abandoned as a baby, and lived out his days in the cathedral, as the public shunned him for his appearance. One of the rare excursions outside was to the Festival of Fools where he was elected Pope of Fools because of his perfect hideous “disguise,” a rare time of “acceptance” by the community.
Long etched upon my brain is the way a squinting Quasimodo holds his disobliging arm and drags his lifeless leg along behind him in an effort to ambulate an uncooperative body through a hostile environment. Physical disabilities of any nature are heartbreaking for sure, and yet a consequence to living in a fallen world, still it is hard to believe someone would choose to be that way.
In Ephesians 5:25-27, we learn that, “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” This doesn’t sound like the Bride of Christ I see. Not only are we riddled with spots, but I fear we altogether resemble the likes of Quasimodo, dragging ourselves through a hostile world, a poor witness to spiritual unity and health.
It is understood that to be born disfigured or crippled is tragic, yet to choose to become disabled is unfathomable, still that is what we have done; our condition is self-inflicted. We, His bride have become a Quasimodo Bride; our failure to use our God-given gifts is our paralysis, and our willingness to embrace sin and be unfaithful to Him is our disfigurement, our “ugliness.” As a result we have an uncooperative body, dragging ourselves along, and that which is there is often tainted with “spots,” causing us to be ineffective in our ministry to the world. We have allowed ourselves to be less than God is calling us to be.
As a consequence society says, “Hey…stay in your cathedral. Don’t come out here. We don’t want to see you…after all you are hideous!” Truly a brutal depiction of humanity, but can we blame them? Are we being washed by the Word or are we welcoming the cultural stains of sin? Are we being conformed into the image of Christ? Are we the beautiful, spotless, blameless Bride of Christ? Or are we willing to continue to be a “deaf and paralyzed” outcast called the Church, the Bride of Christ?
Can you imagine a Quasimodo Bride coming down the aisle toward Christ? I am certain that is not the picture that we are to have in regards to the Church, the Bride of Christ.
Brutal words, I know. Yet, unlike Quasimodo we have an option, a cure so to speak. We can surrender to God. We can bow the knee and begin to work together for the glory of Christ. We can use our gifts. We can elect to be washed by the Word, and surrender to the will of God. Or we can continue to drag ourselves along having minimal influence upon a world which so desperately needs the Savior whom we represent. No paralysis, no disfigurement – rather, the way we were intended to be by our Creator.
The Bride who Christ is expecting! Lord, help us please!