Monday, February 25, 2008

The Bride of Christ

The Gospel of John says the church is to be the bride of Christ...I am so thankful that Scripture says Christ returns for a church without spot or blemish (see Eph 5) because many in the church (we are all sinners saved by grace) never hear the Gospel proclaimed in truth and love. They hear a diluted feel good message that never mentions sin, repentence, or the need for our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. God's power will transform us into this holy bride.

To fully understand what the Bible is talking about when it tells us that Christians will be the bride of Christ, we need to grasp the Jewish wedding custom of Jesus' time on earth.
The Jewish wedding process started with an agreement between 2 fathers, 1 deciding to allow his daughter to marry the other’s son. In a public ceremony, the couple announced their intentions to get married, initiating the betrothal period.

This betrothal period lasted about a year, during which the groom returned to his father’s house and began preparing a room for his new bride. When the room was completed, a priest inspected the room to ensure it was better than the current living conditions for the bride. (Can you imagine the average American man building the room and waiting to pass inspection?)

Meanwhile, the bride prepared herself for the wedding ceremony. She knew the ceremony would begin approximately a year after declaring their intentions to get married, but the exact day or hour was unknown. As the bride, she and her wedding party attendants were to be prepared on a moment’s notice. (Can you imagine the average American woman being thrilled with this custom? My hair...my make up...my manicure....)

At last the anticipated day arrives, the wedding feast and ceremony started with one of the groomsmen leading the bridegroom through the streets, yelling, “Behold, the bridegroom comes!” After a shofar sounded, the entire wedding party went to the bride’s house. And she had to be ready, for her new husband would immediately take her to a wedding feast that would last seven days.

The preparation process for marriage in the Jewish tradition was as critical as the wedding ceremony and feast. Likewise, being the bride of Christ isn’t about standing at the altar in a white dress; it’s about waiting and preparing for His presence in our lives on daily, focusing on our relationship with Christ instead of spending all our time wondering when He will come, is there a pre-trib, mid-trib, or post trib Rapture, is the Anti Christ alive, etc...

Waiting is difficult, but we learn waiting is essential to becoming passionate followers of God. To wait for God means that we put our heart and soul into being prepared for Him and His calling on our life.

Once we understand the traditional Jewish customs involved in a marriage, the parable in Matthew 25:1-13 takes on a new light. Those bridesmaids who weren’t ready missed the feast. Jesus explained, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour” (v. 13).
Though this verse is specifically refers to Christ’s triumphant return to earth, it can also be applied to the way we live daily. While we as believers have the Holy Spirit with us at all times, there are times when we are thrown into situations where we must be ready to impact our world for Christ. We are prompted by the Holy Spirit to encourage, challenge, or share with someone. If we are serious about our faith, we must be ready to respond in obedience to His voice. To do this, we must know His word and know the Voice of God. As sheep, we must know the voice of our Shepherd.

Behold, our Bridegroom comes! Let's wait in anticipation for the sound of the heavenly shofar.