I’m sure you’ve heard of Cinderella. She was a slave girl under the tyranny of her wicked stepmother. One day, though, a fairy godmother magically granted her the most magnificent outfit so that she could attend the royal ball. She did, and long story short, in the end married the charming prince.
Israel was an unfaithful nation. Despite all the works God had done for her, she still turned from him to follow her own sinful desires. For this, God had promised her that he would send her into exile in Babylon. There she would live as a slave until the Lord saved her.
We have all turned from God and sinned. That’s our human nature. We are no good. We certainly don’t deserve God’s attention or love, but yet he gives it to us. He invited us into his family and assures us his kingdom is ours. Us being invited into God’s kingdom is as absurd as a peasant girl like Cinderella not only being welcomed into the palace, but actually marrying the crown prince. What about her made her worthy of the prince inviting and marrying her?
Nothing. Cinderella swept floors and cleaned chimneys. She was no royalty. She had nothing about her that earned her the right to become a member of the royal family. We’re sinners that turned from God and enjoy the darkness. What right have we to be welcomed into his kingdom? What right do we as the church have be the bride of our Lord?
None. We have no right. Yet, God’s love for us abounds. He treated us like Cinderella’s fairy godmother. We mistreat, forsake, neglect to thank and praise, and disobey God. We don’t love him with our whole heart and we certainly don’t live according to his perfect will. Yet, he has promised us that which he promised the people of Israel through his prophet Isaiah.
God promised to his people that the glory of the Lord has risen upon them, the nations and kings would come to their light, all would gather to them and treasures would abound for them. Beautiful would the Lord make his house among them. Their children would be many and their gates always open, for the Lord would be constantly protecting them. He promised he would take the least one and make it a clan, and the smallest nation a mighty one.
That is where Cinderella’s story becomes ours. Picture this: Israel, the smallest and weakest nation. The sinful, unloyal tribe. It was they that God promised he would make rich with his blessings. He would give them safety. He would take a poor, hopeless nation, much like the slave girl Cinderella, and he would make that nation his glorious bride, adorning her with all sorts of treasures and blessings, much like Cinderella being dressed in the nicest clothes and being taken in marriage by the crown prince. The whole story of Cinderella seems too happy to be true because it’s just a fairy tale, but the story of Israel, though it seems just as fantastic, is true! That’s our God. He takes the worst and makes them the best.
God has promised us the same. We are all, as the church, God’s bride. This is not because we earned it. It has nothing to do with whether we are rich or poor, skilled or talentless, or any other characteristic. We like to find worthiness in ourselves, but that’s not why God treats us with such mercy and grace.
We are blessed as the bride of God for one reason and his name is Jesus Christ. He came to this world to die in order to save Cinderellas like us. Unworthy. Unclean. Unloyal. Sinners. We’ve been made like Cinderella, given all things we don’t deserve because of Jesus alone. Christ, in his sacrifice, gave his righteousness, obedience, and worthiness to us. So when the father views us, he sees us as righteous and worthy of his love and forgiveness.
The devil, the world, and even your own sinful nature can struggle against God. They can try to deny you the many wonderful blessings that God has promised you, but they cannot win. They can hinder you in this life, on this world, but they cannot hinder God and his will. They cannot snatch you out of the Lord’s hands. They’re already defeated. You’re saved. God’s blessings are yours. You, unworthy sinner, get to live as a perfect saint in the kingdom of the king of kings, heaven. That is your Cinderella story. That is your happy ending. Praise God!
Rev. Logan Landes is assistant pastor at Grace Lutheran Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.