Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Church as a Bride

Isaiah 62:5 For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.

Revelation 21:2-3
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

“It is a mercy to have a faithful friend that loveth you entirely,… to whom you may open your mind and communicate your affairs…. And it is a mercy to have so near a friend to be a helper to your soul and …to stir you up in the grace of God.”
-Puritan pastor Richard Baxter on marriage, A Christian Directory

Thinking back on over 30 years of marriage I still vividly remember the joy and delight of seeing Judy make her way (I barely noticed her dad!) down the aisle to meet me as we began our wedding ceremony. She was a beautiful bride all dressed in white; she was the picture of all perfections. And in the days, weeks and months that led up to our marriage she was all I could think about. She had my utmost attention and affection. She had become my singular focus, and all of my thoughts were directed towards her. This wedding would become a defining moment for me. From this point forward I would be known as a married man, my heart captivated by one woman. From here on every decision I would make would have a bearing upon her. My new affection would determine the course for our lives together. I wanted to be inseparable, to live with her and always be with her. I couldn’t (and still can’t) bear the thought of being away from her. Often we don’t think of the church in such intimate terms as bride and bridegroom. And yet this is precisely the way that Paul describes the relationship in Ephesians 5. In fact, Christ and the church are protological (God’s initial idea) and the marriage of men and women are typological (patterned after the original). And every marriage, no matter how good, or even how bad, gives a declaration of God’s desire and plan for His people. To think that the church has the singular affection and attention of God, and that His sovereignty has her utmost care in mind (Romans 8:28-32) ought to stagger us. I can’t help but wonder what bearing this would have upon us if we really believed it. What if the church captured our affections and attention like this? What if all of our joy and delight were found in her? What if our commitment to her (and by default our commitment to love and prefer one another) was such that our allegiances were obvious to those that are around us. My hope and prayer is that this affection for the Savior and for the church defines us as Christ Our Redeemer Church. When we think about the things most important- a passionate love for the Savior and a passionate love for the church ought to be at the top of the list. This is our new identity, this is our new community, and this is our new family.

Loving the Savior’s bride with you.

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