"Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready." - Revelation 19:7
The last identity statement we covered in this series was:
To be intimately known, and deeply loved is something I can hardly wrap my mind around; much less when I discover the perfection of my God, or Heavenly Father, as opposed to my vast imperfections. As I studied this Identity Statement - that I am the Bride of Christ - I was taken further down the road of His love; a different kind of love. It's a love that can only be compared to the one found in a faithful, committed marriage. Let's explore!
First of all, we know for sure this is part of our identity in Christ because it referenced and used as an illustration in so many places in the Bible, from beginning to end:
For example, in Ephesians 5, Paul gives instruction to husband and wives. He tells the husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church - which draws a parallel between a a groom and a bride, and Jesus and the body of believers. Marriage is frequently used as a means of illustrating God's love for His people, actually. So there is no question this is an important part of our identity.
Well, as quoted above, Revelation 19 speaks of the marriage of the Lamb. John is writing of the return of Christ and references the idea of the bride being "ready."
There was a cultural custom in that day. When a man and woman became engaged - mutually decided to be committed and faithful to their relationship - the man would go away for a time to prepare a home for them. There was no structure or set timeline for this. He could be gone for 6 months, he could be gone for 4 years. Either way, while he was gone building a house and preparing a home, the bride-to-be was to prepare herself for him; she was to be ready when he returned.
This is exactly what Jesus did for us. He came to earth, drew us into relationship, laid Himself down for us (as Scripture instructs the husband to do for their bride), and went to Heaven to prepare a home, promising to return again for us.
So what does it mean, practically, for us in terms of how it impacts who we are, who He is to us and our walk the Lord?
It shows us the nature and depth with which we are loved by Him, our groom...
This is a pursuing, initiating love
This is a faithful love
This is a committed love
(By the way... a really wonderful book that speaks to this love is Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.)
This is the love He initiated, and calls us to respond to. He is the great initiator.
Which means this identity we have as thee bride of Christ, and the way it relates to who He is, also provides us with a clear picture of what we're called to do...
Stay faithful and committed in response to His faithfulness as we wait for His return; while His faithfulness will not wither away if we are faithless (2 Timothy 2:13), we are still called to be faithful in response to Him
Ready ourselves for His return; live in a manner worthy of the calling to which we've been called (Ephesians 4:1)
We are to be found ready for Him. There is no better guideline for how to accomplish this than the Word of God. It outlines how God desires us to live - which, really, also benefits us because He's never called us to do something that wasn't ultimately for our good, and the good of His Kingdom.
I can't help but ask you two questions as we wrap up the study of this Identity Statement:
Do you have a grasp, and have you allowed your heart to accept, the depth and nature of this love we receive as the bride of Christ?
Are you living your life readying yourself for the return of your Groom?
Let's see how the Lord unpacks these things in our hearts over the next few days!