Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Bride (or It's all Really About Being Ready) - Priest vs. Warrior, Part 3

Our "job", as Christians, is not difficult to understand.  We are to follow Jesus, where He goes and on His terms.  We start growing in that meaning and purpose from the moment we are saved.  The more effort we put into surrendering to that purpose, the faster we move into the fullness and abundance He wants us to have.

That's our work; to believe, trust, hope but most importantly, to love.

We follow Christ - as priests and warriors; ready to serve Him and ready to stand firm in our faith against the forces of evil seeking to prevent us.  We explored those "garments" in the first two posts (see here and here.)  Now, in this third and final installment, I want to throw out another set of clothing I never given much thought to - until yesterday.  It was a very cool download to get.  It is an outfit we are all familiar with in some way:

The Wedding Dress.

One of my favorite newlywed memories is my husband slapping me on the back mere minutes after our nuptials, calling out the large H-shaped sun burn on my back.  He announced he'd married a Honda.  Everyone laughed.  Me, I smiled.  (Swimming with stingrays in a t-strap bathing suit before wearing a halter dress is not the best decision I've ever made.)

Another wedding memory: I loved everything but my dress.  I'd had it made and we had a destination wedding, so when I did my final fitting, there wasn't enough time to make changes or buy a new one. It wasn't ugly, it just wasn't me.  I was also heavier then I wanted to be, heavier than I am now, in fact, after 3 kids.  And I have better hair now.

But I digress.

Regardless of my lack of fondness at that time for my body or the dress hung on it, I was still a bride.  I went to great lengths to get ready.  It lived up to the hype.  It was by far the best party I've ever been to.  I've got written confirmation from a lot of the guests this is true. 

More than that, there is something so special, really sacred, about being a bride.  The "getting ready" portion is preparation for the next stage of your life.  Just as putting together a nursery puts you in the mindset of being a parent, putting on your wedding attire gets you in the mindset of being a wife or husband. 

Have you ever thought about that?  Did you know Jesus doesn't see you as a warrior or priest?

Did you know that Jesus sees you as His BRIDE?

It's kind of a heart-stopping realization for me.  Rather a game-changing moment if you really sit with that idea for awhile.  It brings the Cross into a little different focus.

Collectively speaking, the Church is His Bride (see Eph 5:25).  I don't think it is too far of a stretch, though, to think of ourselves wearing wedding-type clothes; and not just any old dress will do.  It would be the best, most beautiful kind haute couture you could envision, but better.  Our "Christ" wedding dress is formed and fitted only for you.  Our King works in high style and dressing His Son's Bride would be no exception. Psalm 45:9, 13-15 gives a little more detail: 

The Bride glittering with golden jewelry...
Her wedding dress is dazzling,
lined with gold by the weavers; 
All her dresses and robes are woven with gold.
She is led to the king,
followed by her virgin companions.
A procession of joy and laughter! A grand entrance to the king's palace!

I told you my wedding was the best party I've ever been to, but the wedding feast of the Son of God?  No comparison.  Jesus, in His magnificent mercy, takes our old, filthy rags of sin and our old works and throws them out, to be burned up.  Then, He washes His Beloved pure, clean and puts on the most incredible garments, embroidered with eternal gold and everlasting jewels (see Col 3:12) and presents Her on His arm to a raucous group of revelers living it up for eternity.  Awesomely romantic, I'd say!

Today, on this earth, in this life, we are warriors and priests.  We get our hands dirty with/for God.  But we won't have to get dirty anymore when Jesus comes again.  We won't need that armor or those priestly garments.  There will be nothing to fear and no one to serve because it will all be taken care of.  Sure, we will have work to do, but it won't be like now. We will be in complete connection, as a Bride in communion with her Bridegroom. 

Only joyful work on the day of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb!

Until that happens, we need to keep our wedding dresses pressed and ready to wear. We have to be consecrated for it.  The short definition of consecration is simply: be ready to wear that dress.  Keep it clean by separating ourselves from the things that would spoil it: sin, most especially.  We need to submit and surrender constantly to putting Jesus first.  It is part of our purpose and meaning to be consecrated.

The pure Bride for the perfect Groom. Jesus talked about it in Matthew 22 and 25, as well as Revelation 19:7-9 has some pretty descriptive verses about the wedding feast:

...the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

Consecration is the key to being "dressed and ready" in faith.  We have got to be comfortable in whatever clothes Jesus asks us to wear in a given moment. If the Bible tells us anything, it's to be about Him and Us.  No other should come between (which is why the model for marriage is the same.)  No sin, no person, no thing should interfere in our relationship.  This applies individually as well as corporately.

It's an amazing way to operate.  To daily prepare ourselves, like a bride, for Christ's return.  We need to be like the virgins in Matthew 25 who were ready with their oil to light the way.  We take it by faith and in confidence that He will return (John 14:1-3).  We also take it by faith He not only loves us but is IN LOVE with us.  He wants to marry us!

It's not just about strength or service, it is very much about love and the resulting relationship from that love.

Hopefully this series has helped you put on and keep on various aspects of our Christian faith.  I'm still learning to be open to wearing what the Holy Spirit picks out for me, rather than deciding for myself.  It is a process we are all growing into, so enjoy it.  Ask for help and most importantly, remain with Him.  He will always show you the right thing to wear.

1 comment:

Janice and James said...

So precious, dear Amy. Thanks for listening to the Lord and sharing.