Yesterday, standing with a co-worker discussing marriage and why having a relationship with Jesus was the greatest way to flourish in life, she asked me, “Oh, so you really love your church, then!” I wasn’t sure if she meant my life was centered on loving the Church and others OR that my life was consumed in my home church’s activities to the detriment of loving others well. So, I answered, “Well, yes I love my church. But, I love Jesus and others more. Don’t get me wrong, the church is very important, but we can’t neglect others.” That statement most likely soared right over her head and unfortunately the opportunity for talking ceased. Perhaps one day I will get to explain to her more fully the beauty of Christ’s love for His Bride, the Church. For now, I will write about it:
When Dustin and I married, we became one flesh. All that I was (my past, my present, my future) was Dustin’s. All of who he was, is, and will be was mine. It’s hard for me to imagine a love greater than Dustin and mine. But, Jesus’ love for His Bride is immensely greater. His love is so great that He took on the full pain of sin and God’s wrath. He died so that His Bride could be made clean and live!
Church Reformer of the 1500s, Martin Luther, allegorizes about Christ, the bridegroom and his Church, the Bride by explaining, “If Christ is the bridegroom, he must take upon himself the things which are his bride’s and bestow upon her the things that are his. [Jesus] neither sinned nor died, and is not condemned; his righteousness, life, and salvation are unconquerable, eternal, omnipotent. By the wedding ring of faith he shares in the sins, death, and pains of hell which are his bride’s…He make’s them his own that he might overcome them all.”
Jesus is in a lifelong (if you’re a Christian that “lifelong” means eternal) relationship with His Bride.
Forever one, forever family, forever His.
Christian brother and sister: We are Christ’s Bride!
Colossians 1:17-20 says, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
How then should we prepare to meet Jesus as His Bride?
First, get the dress. Before doing anything, most brides run to the dress shop because they dream of the perfect wedding dress. The Bible talks about our wedding dress.
Rev. 19:7-9 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints. Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’
Rom. 13:14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Col. 3:12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
So, what are these wedding clothes? They are the expressions of our faith. The Bible often associates them with true relationship with Christ that leads to a changed life of obedience. The bride wears white and Christians wear white in Revelation because it is a symbol of purity. Believer, we are perfectly pure in Christ, no blemish, no sin, no past. But washed in complete holiness. So, in preparation, live your life in grace; flourishing in God and living your life in righteousness because you love Him (1 Pt. 2:9-10).
Secondly, you must send your invitations. If you’re the bride, you want people to come to your wedding. Likewise, we are the Bride of the greatest Bridegroom! The wedding that lasts for all eternity! We must tell everybody we know about this groom so they too can come to the wedding feast (i.e. Sharing the Good News of the Savior and Lord, Jesus).
Finally, if you’re about to be married to the love of your life, don’t you think you would THINK about him, talk to them, make decisions based on him, desire to make him happy? To have a successful marriage, you must put your spouse before yourself. As the Church, we should prepare to be with Christ by living life for Him instead of selfishly for ourselves.
I know that when I married Dustin he was my best friend. Why? Simply, because he was already my best friend. I knew he would try (even though he’s a sinner) to do what was best for me always. Sometimes that’s been hard: challenging my sin or correcting me when wrong…or not always giving into me when I want something we don’t need.
Here is a simple truth that teenagers often don’t believe! You think that you need to experience all parts of life to know what is best in life: sex, porn (which often comes in the form of instant text messaging), drugs, crass music, many boyfriends/girlfriends, and on and on.
The truth is your Groom, Jesus Christ, is perfect. Your God desires to give you what is absolutely BEST for you…every time. Sometimes He will challenge you sin or correct you when wrong…or not always give into you when you want something you don’t need. It will hurt at times. But, He knows what is best for your life. Trust him.
Please, trust Him. The only reason He says “Don’t do something,” is because He desires to protect you from pain and needless suffering. And when he says, “Do it my way,” it always brings the most fulfillment and joy! God wants you to LOVE life! Christ’s love for His Bride is illustrated to us in a Christ-centered marriage; an imperfect picture, but beautiful picture that displays the Gospel’s message. Look for that in Part Two of The Perfect Wedding and Marriage: How Jesus Loves His Bride.