How To Start A House Church #8: The Bride Mentality

In order to remain a church that is pleasing to God, we need to not just stand firm in the face of temptation and persecution, but we have to remember our first love—Jesus. While God wants a strong body, He also wants a pure, faithful, hopeful, and soft-hearted church. This is the bride mentality.

The church is the bride of Christ. Through the help of the Holy Spirit, we maintain the bride mentality, nothing between us, intimacy between us and God and between each other. In seeking to wake and beautify the Bride of Christ (Revelation 3:2, Revelation 19:7), we understand that we are “the church” covenanted in betrothal to Jesus Christ (Hosea 2:19; Eph. 1:13). As those redeemed, we are declared legally righteous by His blood (Rom. 3:21-28, 4:18-25), and sealed by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to guide us in truth to bring to completion what Jesus had to teach us (John 16:12-13), what the will of the Father is, to bring us to unity (Eph 2:14-18), to equip us for global ministry (Acts 2), to convey the love of God (Romans 5:5), to give spiritual gifts to the people (1 Corinthians), and to wash us continually until Christ is formed in us (Titus 3:5). The implications of this will change the world.

We take communion every time we gather together because it is such a beautiful enactment of our identity and rights as the beloved of God. We spend time remembering Jesus, confessing our sins, praying for one another, and taking in the body and blood of Jesus. Here’s why this is so important as the body of Christ.

JESUS, THE JEWISH GROOM

Let’s look at how Jesus shows us this picture by looking at his cultural context. Jesus was a Jew. In Jewish culture, The father would choose the bride for his son and establish a bride price. The groom would make arrangements with the family of the bride and plan a time about a year before the wedding for the betrothal ceremony where he would establish a covenant by the signing of a contract where the groom would agree to pay the bride price.

At the appointed time, the young man would come to the house of the bride-to-be for the engagement/betrothal ceremony (kiddushin), but she would have the choice to let him in to eat the betrothal meal. If she did let Him in, the groom would pour a cup of wine for his beloved, to represent the making of a new covenant with her. If she drank the cup, she would have formally accepted the proposal and they would be betrothed. Sometimes, the man would vow not to drink wine again until the marriage celebration (a vow of sobriety—extra motivation and a demonstration of His devotion to wait for her!).

The bridegroom would then take his leave, but before he did, the young man would give a ring to his beloved, sealing the covenant, setting her apart and claiming her as his own. This vow is repeated even today in a traditional, single-ring ceremony where only the groom gives a ring to the bride. She gives nothing in return except her devotion. He says to her,

Ha-rei aht mekudeshet li, be-tahba’at zoh, k’dat Mosheh v’Yisrael.

With this ring, you are consecrated to me (sanctified/holy), according to the tradition of Moses and Israel.”

The bride is then set apart for the groom. After the groom left, He spent their time apart preparing a room for them in his Father’s house, but the groom did not decide when He was finished. The Father did. And the bride?

She waited.

When the Father assessed that the time was right, He would tell the son to go get his bride. This could happen in the middle of the night which is why no one knew the day or the hour of the groom’s arrival. The bride had to be ready at any moment with a veil and an oil lamp by her bed, with extra oil, just in case (since the oil in oil lamps only lasted about four hours).

When the groom and his friends got close to the bride’s house they would shout and blow a shofar trumpet to call his bride out to the wedding (traditional Jewish communities all over the world still did this even twenty years ago according to a Jewish woman I interviewed in Cochin, Kerala, India!) Then the wedding celebrations would begin! The bride would then go through a water baptism (mikvah) of living water (mayim chayim), her final purification. Then the wedding feast would begin.

 

WE ARE BETROTHED TO JESUS

Let’s look at the characteristics of the Jewish bride-to-be waiting for her groom and apply those to the church:

Betrothed brides are chosen

Betrothed brides are loved.

Betrothed brides are pursued.

Betrothed brides are bought with a price or “redeemed”!

Betrothed brides let Him in

Betrothed brides eat the covenant meal

Betrothed brides drink the “cup of the new covenant in His blood”

Betrothed brides are set apart, “spoken for,” and off limits.

Betrothed brides remain pure.

Betrothed brides are left alone for a time—they don’t know how long the wait will be.

Betrothed brides wait expectantly and keep watch in hopeful joy.

Betrothed brides remember the beloved.

Betrothed brides WILL BE returned for!

Look at the incredible connections to the story of Jesus and the symbolic way He showed us that He wants intimacy with us. The Father choose the bride for his son and established a bride price of His son’s death. He stands at the door of our hearts and waits to be let in and eat a covenant meal with us. By letting Him in, we agree to hear His proposal. Jesus enacted a covenant with communion, betrothing us in a “new covenant in His blood.” (yes, this is what Jesus said over the first communion… according to tradition, the Jewish men would have been wondering why Jesus was betrothing Himself to them!)

We drink from His cup, which is our acceptance, our “yes!” He then gives us the ring and seal of the Holy Spirit and left us alone saying to remember Him every time you drink and eat (wine and bread were staple foods), because He was preparing a place for us in His Father’s house! And, one day, as soon as His Father gives Him permission, Jesus is coming back with fierce love to take us to the home He has prepared for us!

So as soon as we accept Christ’s offer of betrothal and unity with Him, we find ourselves in this already-not-yet relationship. We are already intimately His and yet we wait for Him to take us home forever. In baptism, we are washed by water like a bride and with the receiving of the Holy Spirit, we are sealed in Him. We build one another up in love and we “clothe ourselves with righteousness of Jesus, which covers our sins, and with righteous acts made possible through our obedience to His Spirit who is alive in us. We do this so that we will have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city of God when Jesus, our Beloved, returns (Revelation 22:14). Knowing Jesus as Beloved is how we know what real intimacy and faithfulness is.

Do you know Jesus in this way?

(If you want a short blog post stop reading there, but if you want to be blown away by the love of God, keep reading!!)

WE RECEIVED THE TRUTH THAT WE ARE KNOWN, CHOSEN, AND LOVED

We know that God was “married” to Israel, and we know that Gentiles (non-Jews) have been brought into this covenant relationship opening up this offer of betrothal to all peoples of the earth, which was His hidden plan all along and is now revealed THROUGH THE CHURCH (Ephesians 3:6-11)! Look at the truth of how Jesus loves us, Bride!

…I have chosen you and have not rejected you. Isaiah 41:9b

For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. Isaiah 54:5

…I remember the devotion of your youth,
    how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness,
    through a land not sown.
Israel was holy to the Lord,
    the firstfruits of his harvest…
Jeremiah 2:2-3

Despite our unfaithfulness and inability to obey God and honor Him, God has betrothed us to Him in His faithfulness (Hosea 2:19) and chose us to be the Bride of His Son. (Eph. 1) And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, God rejoices over us. (Isaiah 62:5) We tend to love people based on the goodness we see in them, but God loves us because of the goodness in Himself.

We see in the story of Hosea how God faithfully pursued His covenant/betrothed people and we can apply this prophecy to describe how He also passionately allures or draws all people (individually) and peoples (corporately) to relationship with Him.

“But then I will win her back once again.
    I will lead her into the desert
    and speak tenderly to her there.
15 I will return her vineyards to her
    and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.
She will give herself to me there,
    as she did long ago when she was young,
    when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.
16 When that day comes,” says the Lord,
    “you will call me ‘my husband’
    instead of ‘my master.’
17 O Israel, I will wipe the many names of Baal from your lips,
    and you will never mention them again.
18 On that day I will make a covenant
    with all the wild animals and the birds of the sky
and the animals that scurry along the ground
    so they will not harm you.
I will remove all weapons of war from the land,
    all swords and bows,
so you can live unafraid
    in peace and safety.
19 I will make you my wife forever (or I will betrothed you),
    in righteousness and justice,
    in unfailing love and compassion.
20 I will be faithful to you and make you mine,
    and you will finally know me as the Lord…
I will show love
    to those I called ‘Not loved.’
And to those I called ‘Not my people,’
    I will say, ‘Now you are my people.’
And they will reply, ‘You are our God!’
” Hosea 2:14-19,23-25

Isn’t that beautiful? Doesn’t it make you swoon? God has been a pursuing God fro the beginning, not only at the community level for the Jews or for the church, but for us individually. Matthew drives home the way that Jesus noticed when one person was missing and He went after that one person.

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? Matthew 18:12

Song of Solomon is a love poem of a king, which is also picture of Jesus pursuing intimacy with us.

My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
    and come away,
11 for behold, the winter is past;
    the rain is over and gone.
12 The flowers appear on the earth,
    the time of singing[
d] has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
    is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree ripens its figs,
    and the vines are in blossom;
    they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
    and come away.

O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
    in the crannies of the cliff,
let me see your face,
    let me hear your voice,
for your voice is sweet,
    and your face is lovely.

Song of Solomon 2:10-13

Jesus pursued each of us the way a man pursues a woman he wants to marry. You are pursued in your lostness and brokenness, not only out of compassion, but also out of deep passion. We can worship him as people who are confident in being pursued, cared for, and loved intimately. His faithfulness is our identity.

I am pursued. I am cared for. I am known and loved intimately.

We fight for that “bride mentality,” even if we don’t feel beautiful or pursued. The truth of scripture tells us that we are worthy of the pursuit of Jesus, Himself. Our emotions, our past hurt, our self-doubt, our shame, bad self-images ALL yield to that truth and we let it drive us to love Him in returning (Isaiah 30:15), in repentance, in rest, in trust, in purity and in passion. Not only this, but we as the whole church are also pursued, cared for, and intimately known and loved.

WE ARE REDEEMED

We were a bride in debt (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Christ paid the highest price for His Bride—with His own blood. “For you have been bought with a price…” (I Corinthians 6:20; see also Galatians 3:13, 1 Peter 1:18-19, Isaiah 53:5) Jesus decided to pay the price set for us to individually and collectively become His family. It is a FINISHED transaction. You were bought at the highest price. You are valuable! You have already been “paid for in full” so you are claimed as His! (Don’t be offended—this is a good thing!)

In paying the price with His own body and blood, Jesus, totally righteous and sinless, gave us His identity as righteous by marriage, just like a bride takes on the name of her husband in many cultures. He redeemed us and we are now legal inheritors of His righteousness. Redemption, or buying back, always had the picture of a protective covering. No longer were you exposed to the elements of the world, but you were covered and looked after, provided for, and tended to. Look how His love for you is written across the scriptures!

When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you,” declares the Lord God, “and you became mine.” Ezekiel 16:8

You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a young woman…and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. Isaiah 62:5

My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10

He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings (corners of a garment) over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” Ruth 3:9

The price has been paid, and maybe you have believed this fact, but have you ever actually really accepted the covenant and lived in intimate relationship, as a bride would, with Jesus?

WE ACCEPT THE COVENANT

It’s not automatic. It’s an offer. Just as a groom would not want to force a bride into a marriage she did not want, God wants our consent, our surrender. He has paid the price, but you have to say “I accept” to being His if that’s what you actually want. And you can do that all by yourself in your room between you and Him. There’s no magic formula. Your “I accept” means that you yield to the full realization of the price He paid for your freedom from sin, and the covering of His righteousness by faith alone. Following His way in love-driven obedience leads to bridal joy and and an invitation to a close, two-way relationship with the One True God through the ring, or seal, of the Holy Spirit, by which He sanctifies us.

In Jewish culture, the covenant of marriage was established by a covenant meal. A groom would go to His beloved’s house and knock on the door. For a bride to accept the covenant proposal she would need to open the door, eat the covenant meal, and drink the covenant cup. Jesus made a betrothal wedding covenant with us.)

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me Revelation 3:20

“The night before Jesus died, He took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of thecovenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Matthew 26:27-29

Again, just as the Jewish bride would have a choice to accept or reject the offer of love, we have the choice to accept or reject the offer of Jesus. That offer extends to each of us today, to come into intimacy with God through Christ. When we take communion together, we acknowledge of acceptance of this offer all over again. (Some of us are in the habit of remembering Christ, our returning groom, every time we eat and drink.)

If we have accepted the offer of Jesus, then there is a new covenant between us. The early messianic Jewish church recognized this redemption, or “paying the price,” and saw this “new covenant” of the wine/blood of Jesus as part of the betrothal process.

WE ARE SEALED WITH A SIGNET RING SEAL, SET APART, AND OFF-LIMITS

Not only this, but we have been redeemed for a purpose. All of this is working toward our eventual union with our beloved! Jesus has given us the ring/seal of the Holy Spirit. Look at this:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. 15Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. Galatians 3:13-15

Wait a minute…why did He redeem us? So we could receive the the Holy Spirit!

Wait! So you mean the cross was not the end goal? No my friend! You were intended for the groom, for intimacy with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus came so that the very presence of God could indwell you! This seal is the Holy Spirit. John’s baptism was of water, the baptism of Jesus was of Living Water (John 7:38-39), the fire of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2, Joel 2).

“Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord.” Song of Solomon 8:6

When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14 … AND …Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge. 2 Corinthians 1:21

For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:2

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession…And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 1:13-14, 4:30

Jesus did not leave us alone. He gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit AND the gifts of the Spirit which unify, purify, strengthen, and beautify the bride more than gold or jewels. In Him we are sealed/safe in His faithfulness to us. His faithfulness empowers our faithfulness to Him. We have everything we need now for life and godliness by the power of Him who called us! (2 Peter 1:3)

The Holy Spirit allows us to know Him intimately because it is the SAME SPIRIT that was in Christ that now gives life to our mortal bodies (Romans 8:11)! If we are the branches and He is the Vine (John 15:5), the Holy Spirit is the Living Water that flows between us, connecting us! So we know Him and experience Him even now. We are not marrying a stranger, but someone who intimately knows us and who we know intimately because of the Holy Spirit, who facilitates our relationship. And until His return, we are “under contract,” as a covenanted bride in waiting.

No longer are we to act like those who are available for all the world has to offer. We are different, uniquely His, set apart (sanctified/holy). Our bodies and all their faculties are now set apart for our groom. And we spend our days making ourselves beautiful for Him (by loving and caring for others) until His return for us. We purify ourselves by confessing our sins to one another and praying for healing for one another. (James 5:16) And we wait joyfully for His return in hope!  

WE STAY ALERT AND READY

After Jesus was broken, poured out, on the cross and resurrected, he made plans to leave to prepare a place for us, His bride. Jesus told His disciples that He would be leaving and He told them “In my Father’s house are many rooms…And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:2-3) With the same intentionality that He pursued us, He is meticulously and joyfully preparing a place for us to be together.

Just like the Jewish bride and groom did not know the hour or day of the groom’s return, we do not know when Jesus will come back. In fact, “No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” (Matthew 24:36) Like the Jewish Bride, we are left waiting, preparing our dress, our adornments, our body, sleeping with our lamps, oil, and veils beside our beds. But he says He is coming with shouts and trumpets to bring us home forever and he won’t delay and longer than He is required by His Father (Hebrews 10:37). A groom wants to come get His bride! The Father is waiting out of His kindness so that more people can come to repentance (2 Peter 3:8-9).

No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” Matt. 24:36

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. Rev 22:17,20

Because we do not know when He is coming, a bride is ready and sober-minded (1 Peter 1:13). We must be watchful, vigilant, and discerning of the times (Matthew 25:13, Luke 12:56). We must keep shining light in darkness by the oil and anointing of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 25:8-9). We must be pure for Him by washing ourselves and others in the scriptures and we make ourselves beautiful for Him.

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. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Revelation 19:7-8

Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Rev. 22:14

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy (set apart), cleansing her by the washing with water through the word (the writer means scripture here). Ephesians 5:25-26

We decide to be the ones who endure and remain faithful, from a position of rest, by the help of God. We are not of those who shrink back (Hebrews 10:39), but we will endure faithfully in trust and we will rule and reign with Him (2 Tim. 2:12). Think about a runner who endures. Endurance is about longevity. It is about NOT GIVING UP when you’re hurt and tired. You might need rest, or you might need to heal from an inury, some days you simply keep putting one foot in front of the other out of sheer determination, but you don’t quit. Now hold this in the tension of doing this from a position of rest, reliance, and trust (Isaiah 30:15) and you have a pretty biblical concept of endurance. This is about God’s faithfulness empowering our steps to complete the task. To establish our hearts. To live every day until we finish our lives in a position of faith and trust, like Jesus did, doing what He puts in front of us to do and seeking out those who need attention and care. Does this sound exhausting? It doesn’t have to be, because He lives in us, and we live in Him. We simply do what we see Him doing and say what He is saying. His faithful holding on to us makes it a joy to connect to and follow Him faithfully in hope and passionate love!

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. James 5:7-9

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! 36 Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. 37 “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. 38 And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” 39 But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved. Hebrews 10:35-39

Wait! So the presence of God is not the end of the plan?! No Beloved! God is making us ONE with Christ and with the church! Jesus intends to bring us to the marriage supper and to marry us! This is a picture of purity, celebration, and intimacy.  Until then…We Love One Another

WE REMAIN ONE UNIFIED BODY!

Jesus prayed that we would be “one.” United in purpose and love for one another and for Him. As the bride, we are literally members of one body as a picture of what will one day be perfected. Jesus does not have multiple brides, He has one bride, the church. That means, when one part of us is sick, our whole body feels it and needs to tend to it. A body cannot be divided against itself and stand. So we commit to love one another out of our love for Christ. We commit to believe that the Holy Spirit is able to keep all of us who live by the Spirit and who are sons of God, completely unified. How do we do this? Lots of yielding, lots of preferring one another, lots of considering others higher than oneself. He wants to be one with us and wants us to be one with one another.

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Ephesians 2:14-18

“I have given them the glory You gave Me, so that they may be one as We are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:22-23

So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen. 11 This is a trustworthy saying: If we die with him, we will also live with him. 12 If we endure hardship, we will reign with him. If we deny him, he will deny us. 13 If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is. 14 Remind everyone about these things, and command them in God’s presence to stop fighting over words. Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them. 2 Tim. 2:12-14

We stay unified by the Holy Spirit. And when we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is. That is our God.

Your invitation as those betrothed to Jesus is to live in His faithfulness to Him and to each other. But you don’t simply imitate Him, you are to be filled with the same Spirit that was in Christ! Because you trust in Jesus, His Spirit lives in you, connecting your heart intimately to the Father’s. His faithfulness empowers your faithfulness.

We usually love people based on the goodness we see in them but God loves us because of the goodness in Himself. We only see this kind of love a few times in human relationships—one is when you are born. As a good parent, I make sure my kids know this one thing is true. I don’t love them because of how good they are I love them for one reason. They are mine. This is a fierce love that they could never undo, because it’s not sourced in their behavior or their response to me. My love for them is entirely firm and they feel that security. It is their birthright. But the other time we see this unearned kind of love is in marriage and this is more profound because you are choosing to love one another this way. The problem is, we are quick to return to a selfish love, because we are needy. If we are not sourcing our love from the heart of God in our relationship with Jesus, we will not be able to sustain it.

But when Jesus lives in us He offers to flow His love in and through us. The Bible says, “by this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us His Spirit.”  1 John 4:13

Because we know Jesus and have His Spirit in us we actually have INSIDE US, making it possible to actually trust and obey Him we know and love Him!

  • The One who fulfills every promise out of loving obedience to the Father
  • The One who pursues us despite our apathy and selfishness
  • The One who dies to self, breaks and pours out self-sacrificingly, even to exhaustion and death

Or don’t you know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You. May they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. John 17:20-21

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”

But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with Him in spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:15-17

The two will become one flesh…this is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:31-32

I am the vine, you are the branches, he who abides in me and I in him will bear much fruit, for without me you can do nothing at all.  John 15:5

We are also made one with each other in Christ! His faithfulness empowering your faithfulness means that because He lives inside us, our affectionate and enduring love for one another will not be in response to the other’s good or bad behavior, but will be rooted and sourced from the very heart of God. You are set apart, consecrated, and sanctified to one another in holy covenant before God if you have His Spirit. There are times when this covenant we agreed to in Christ may feel like the only thing keeping us together through disagreements, disappointments, moral failures, and theological differences. We gently correct one another and address false teaching and sin because we love one another. But, because He lives in you, our commitment to one another in the body of Christ is as binding and permanent as God’s love for us. This is because His faithfulness will enable your faithfulness.

 …that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. John 17:21-23

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all… So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:1-6, 11-13

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:26-29

WE REMEMBER HIM

Until then we remember our First Love (Rev. 2:2-5), who gave Himself up not scorning the cross or its shame, FOR US!…Because of the JOY set before Him (being united with us one day!) (Heb. 12:2). Jesus is confident that we have what we need to be faithful to Him. The Holy Spirit has given us a heart of a bride. The Holy Spirit was not simply given as a conscience to tell you right from wrong. Even moral people can do that on their own. The Holy spirit was given to us as a seal of our identity as the children of God and the bride of Christ. It is our seal of authority and identity. The Holy Spirit keeps us in touch with Jesus. He is the vital force that connects the vine and branch, the Living Water, that produces God’s fruit in our lives by the sheer miracle of being connected to Him NOW!

I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. Rev. 2:2-5

Notice this particular church was not having trouble with behavior, but with a lack of love. Thankfully we also have a prescription. Repent and do the things you did at first. What is that?

COMMUNION!

We commune with our betrothed. Just like a couple in love, we want to be with Him, we love to hear His voice, we love to be close to Him. We do this on an individual and community level. Communion is meant to be a remembering of covenant between Jesus and one another. It is where we eat the bread of life, the manna from Heaven—we symbolically receive Christ into our own bodies physically to remind ourselves of the spiritual receiving of Christ that we did at first. It’s a remembering. We drink in His love for us, the wine reminding us of the blood he shed, reminding us that He’s not drinking it again until He drinks it with us! He’s waiting for you and me with so much anticipation. We are reminded in communion to wait for Him with that same anticipation.  

A natural result of going into Communion (individual and communal) is that our sin becomes visible to us. That’s because God is holy and sinless and He has set us apart as holy and sinless by the blood of Jesus. That’s why we take time before communion to ask God to search our hearts and show us anything deceitful, evil, or anxious in us, any thought dividing our attention from Him. We confess our sins to God and also to one another for accountability and as an opportunity to receive grace from one another. We pray for each other that you may be healed from the effect of si in this world. Remembering Jesus in communion helps keep us pure and hopeful about life because of the joy set before us! Just as a bride to be finds joy at the thought of her wedding day, we remember our bridegroom and the day He is coming for us. We spend time with Him at His feet and follow Him as a devoted bride-to-be through this wilderness to the promised land He has prepared for us!

WAKE UP BRIDE OF CHRIST!

We are waiting for our bridegroom. Wake up Bride of Christ! A sleeping Christian has grown tired in the waiting and has lost passion. But an awake Christian is alert, watchful, pure, remembering, and mourning the absence of Jesus.

These things are not secrets. Jesus wants purity, but just as much (even more fundamentally), He wants our love. He wants our passion and disciplined devotion that pulls us to spend time with Him at His feet and live in His presence, burning for Him. How do you get this oil of bride-like joy? You ask God who gives generously to anyone who asks. It is impossible to have a relationship with someone when we never talk to each other. We communicate to God through the Holy Spirit.

We love Him. We ask Him questions. We listen. We will obey Him, remain pure, remain watchful, and obey His commandments to make disciples and teaching them to obey His commandments too! We sell everything to buy the treasure of His presence, of His life in us. To know we are ready. Jesus painted this picture for us.

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lampsand went to meet the bridegroom.  2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘HERE IS THE BRIDEGROOM. COME OUT TO MEET HIM.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” Matthew 25:1-13

The point to this parable is to stay ready! To make sure we’re the ones ready for Jesus and intimately known by Him. As those who are staying vigilant, we cry out to other believers who are sleeping and say “WAKE UP bride of Christ! Get oil for your lamps.”

An oil lamp in the Bible would run out of oil at about midnight. This is why the ten virgins in the story needed extra oil. It’s taking longer than we thought for His return, but He IS coming back for us! We will be the ones seeing the signs of the times, ready to endure the night. As we see sin increase and hatred abound. As we see famines and war and plague, we will make sure we are ready with the oil of joy that is produced by faith, hope, and love. Through communion, we are ONE with Him in His death, buried WITH HIM in His tomb, resurrected IN HIM, are WITH HIM now, and WILL BE WITH HIM at our marriage supper one day. We will ask God to teach us how to reinforce that which remains and we will complete what God gives us to do.

I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. WAKE UP! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Yet you have a few people…who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Rev. 3:1-5

But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Matthew 24:37-39

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. Revelation 22:16-17

WAKE UP BRIDE OF CHRIST!

You are chosen

You are loved.

You are pursued.

You are bought with a price or “redeemed”!

You let Him in

You eat the covenant meal

You drink the “cup of the new covenant in His blood”

You are set apart, “spoken for,” and off limits.

You remain pure.

You are left alone for a time—they don’t know how long the wait will be.

You wait expectantly and keep watch in hopeful joy.

You remember the beloved.

We WILL BE returned for!

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