Things Are True
by Dan Coburn
Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church
Being the Bride
Unfortunately, we can have a tendency to bring this mindset to our understanding of the Church's relationship with Christ. Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:25-27 that Christ loved the Church so much He gave Himself up for her in order to sanctify her, cleanse her, and present her to Himself in splendor and without blemish. We read this and picture a bride at a modern day wedding, resplendent in all her glory. Eagerly, we await our own day in the sun, when Jesus will return for us, whisk us off to the wedding feast, and present us before all of creation as His glorious bride.
But we've got it all wrong. This story isn't really about us any more than the stories of Jesus healing the lame is about the lame. It is the miracle worker, not the miracle, who gets the glory.
When Paul describes the love of Jesus for His bride, and exhorts the Church to remain chaste as she awaits her husband, he is drawing on an analogy from the Old Testament prophets. But they weren't talking about an innocent bride-to-be faithfully awaiting her betrothed. Israel's unfaithfulness was so detestable that God called Hosea to marry a wife of whoredom, a woman who was consistently unfaithful to him, and then commanded him to continually forgive her. This is the full depiction of the Bride of Christ. The miracle is not her chastity, for she has none! The miracle is God's relentless love for His Bride. His continual grace and forgiveness, and the lengths He will go to restore her to Himself.
When we lose sight of the reality of who we are as the unfaithful bride we can start to think of ourselves as a people chosen because we are worthy in our own purity. We miss the miracle that is being described in Ephesians 5, that of a husband so insanely in love with is unfaithful bride that he gives his all to restore her back to himself. Washing her, purifying her, and presenting her to himself without blemish, though she does not deserve it. (Husbands, so love your wives!) And if we miss this truth, we miss the gospel, and we lose our hope in Jesus.
Our hope in Jesus is not the day that He exalts us as His glorious Bride. Can you imagine Hosea presenting his unfaithful wife, Gomer, as though she were honorable and pure? What disgust! What a laughing stock he would be! No, the miracle is that Hosea stands between Gomer and the people, he covers her with is love and grace. The people see Gomer as redeemed only by seeing her through Hosea. Likewise, our hope is in the day that Jesus is exalted as the Groom, when He stands up between us and the Accuser and covers us with His love and grace.
We are not the ones to be exalted. Jesus Christ is the one raised from the dead, seated at the right hand of the Father, far above rule and authority and power and dominion, above every name that is named in this age and in the one to come. Only in Him are we blessed with every spiritual blessing, redeemed through His blood, forgiven of our sins, and lavished in the riches of His grace. We may be the miracle, but He is the miracle worker. We are not looking forward to our own destiny, for truly His destiny is our hope.