I have been reflecting recently about the love that Christ has for the church and its implications.
We are told that for the joy set before him Christ endured the cross, scorning its shame. Hebrews 12v2.
In the book of Revelation, we are told what that joy was.
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. 19v7
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 20v2
The church, Christ’s bride, is his joy, his delight, his passion, his motivation.
This is something we need to hear and reflect on. We may also love the church, but we can become discouraged by her faults and apparent weakness. We can work hard in the church and see a marginalised and messed up community. Yet she is Christ’s bride, and he will vindicate her.
I am told that Martin Luther told the story of a king (representing Jesus) marrying a poor girl—in fact, a prostitute (representing us). And at their wedding day, she says to him: “All that I am I give to you, and all that I have I share with you!” And so, she shares with him all her debts and shame. And the king says, “And all that I am I give to you, and all that I have I share with you.” And with those words, he is hers: she becomes a queen, and all his kingdom is hers.
What a powerful picture of the relationship between Christ and his bride.
There are some implications from this.
We shouldn’t separate ourselves the church or be unconcerned about the church. It has been easy to do so after many months of not meeting together. Other things take the place of gathering with God’s bride. We get out of the habit. Let us all decide to re-engage with Christ’s love and passion, his church.
Second, which is especially relevant for leaders within the church, like I me. If the church is Christ’s beloved bride, we must treat her with great respect. It’s so tempting to want the church to look at us, to admire us, to depend on us. But think what that is! Richard Sibbes said, “Many make love to the spouse of Christ.” Trying to get the bride to admire you is flirting with the bride of Christ. True friends do not behave that way. No, if we’re friends of Christ, we point the church to her husband. Isn’t that telling, trying to get the bride to admire you is flirting with the bride of Christ. I find that stops me dead in my tracks. May I never flirt with Christ’s bride.
Then thirdly, if we love Christ we will share his concerns, especially being the champion of his bride.