Sunday, April 3, 2011

Being the Bride of Christ

I recently visited a friend and attended church with her this past weekend. The pastor's sermon was entitled "The Day of the Lord," and mainly encouraged the church to be prepared for Christ's return, living for Him while we remain expectant for His coming. All of this stuff was familiar, not-so-new to me, but, for some reason, the analogy of Christ as the bridegroom and the bride His Church struck me in a new way.

Perhaps it is because I see people getting engaged and married nearly every second (ok, not quite that often) that it seemed more relatable this time. The pastor began to describe the wedding of Christ and the Church, and my imagination took over from there.

Imagine the Church and Christ as a love relationship in human terms. Christ, is the pursuer, and gradually draws the Church, His beloved, to Himself. He tell her (the Church) that she is of great value and even worth dying for. He tells her that, in fact, He has already conquered death on her behalf so that she and Him may be together forever in His Father's house. The bride and Christ are then engaged. Christ has already sworn Himself to her, but she, the Church, accepts His love and promises to be His alone. Now comes the period of preparation. There is much to be done: telling others of the great Wedding feast, encouraging the other wedding attendents (fellow Christians), and most importantly, strengthening and growing the love relationship between the bride and groom (Christ). Finally, after much "business" and "tedious" labors, the great day arrives. The bride has long discarded her soiled, filthy rags and puts on her garment of purest white. At the altar stands the bridegroom, Christ, eagerly awaiting the union with His bride. He has loved her from the beginning, been patient through her struggles, and now, is ready to receive her into His house, as His, forever... She waits on the other side of the door, with eager anticipation. The doors open, and the radiant bride glides down the aisle into the groom's arms. Thus begins forever...

This illustration is so beautiful, and biblical. The Church is called Christ's bride, and Christ, the bridegroom. Although collectively as Christians, we are the Church, I like to think of this marriage in individual terms. From the moment of your birth, He loved you and noticed everything about you. You were young, and human, and could not understand His love. But over time, He drew you to Himself, showing you unfaltering devotion and the possibility of a life together, for always. Then, you said Yes, accepted Him as your Savior, thus beginning the engagement period. This engagement period is the waiting and preparation period, the time when girls buy dresses, send invitations, and call the caterers. For the Christian, it is a time of growing in Christ, loving on others, and losing your will in His. On the wedding day, once we are raptured into His prescence, you personally are united with your loving Savior, who has sustained you to the day. And now, you and your heavenly Fiance enter into the eternal honeymoon.

Now, tell me that isn't the best love story? :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

What Company Do You Keep?

I've always thought that I kept respectable, "good" company. I feel like I've always known and believed that "He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm" (Proverbs 13:20).My closest friends encourage me, don't talk trash, and are uplifting. And I need that. As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another, and this is soooo important for Christians especially, that they are built up in fellowhship with one another.

Introductions aside, I realize I may be guilty of entertaining corrupt company afterall. These people are not my friends, do not know my name, nor do they know I exist. But through the media (music, movies, etc...) they constantly influence me, be it ever so subtly (sp?). I find that the more I listen to mainstream music and allow myself to listen to "trash" (you know the trash I'm talking about), it infiltrates my mind. My thoughts can become not so godly, my speech not so uplifting, and my actions not so selfless just by listening to the "hit" music continuously. With movies, too, it is easy to become disillusioned by false views of relationships, love, and identity. Yes, it may be the norm that people get drunk, keep no check on their tongue, and have a new "lover" every weekend, but this is NOT Christ-like nor even healthy behavior. By keeping company with today's media, women sadly come to believe that their body and image is their ticket to love and success. How to keep a man seems to be the number one topic on all the tabloids... (it's rather sickening). For guys, listening to the current music and watching movies, they may begin to devalue women, seeing them only as objects and not complex, and often complicatingly beautiful individuals. Power does not come in the form of money (sorry to disappoint you rappers), possessions, nor physical prescence. All of these notions are LIES. Lies.

I tend to generally think that the music I listen to doesn't matter, rationalizing that I listen to it for the beat, the way it sounds, etc. Yes, this is true. But lately I've noticed how much TRASH is in these songs. So, in a way, this is a confession and admonition to myself to be more picky about what music I listen to. But it's also a challenge to you to be selective in your media choices. When you watch/listen to something day in and day out, it has become the company you keep, and that is just as destructive as hanging out with a literal bunch of fools.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Unworthy Servants

Luke 17:7-10 (New International Version, ©2010)

7 “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8 Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9 Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”

So, I am a very undedicated blogger, because it's been about two months since my last post. Oops! Too much to do, and too many things crowding out space in my brain for reflection and deeper thought. What a shame.

Introductions aside, I was going through my Bible and this passage caught my eye, particularly the last verse, which, I had underlined at one point. This passage is tough to swallow, but not tough to understand. Clearly, as Christ's servants, we are called not just to keep the ten commandments and obstain from murder and sexual immorality, along with avoiding drunkenness, lying, and stealing, but to also purposefully act in ways that please our Father while obstaining from sin. I think it's easy as a Christian to rationalize and say, "Well, God, you know I never tell a lie and don't go to crazy parties. I'd never even think of taking something without buying it, and of course, you know murder is out of the question because I risk my life dodging small creatures on the road..." (maybe your train of thought is different, but that's my first response) Yes, He says, you don't do those things, but what HAVE you done? Did you encourage your roommates today, even though you yourself needed encouragement? Did you explain to that man, when he asked you about religion, that he too can have a relationship with me? Did you seek my face throughout the day, setting time aside to read my truths and listen to my voice, instead of ________? (fill in the blank)

It's easy to be a Christian that avoids the obvious sins. The kind of person that people assume is Christian because nothing in their life screams otherwise. But does your life scream, without question, that you are in love with Jesus and His people? If so, you (and I) will have to do more than flee temptation, but also put on our work gloves, tie our running shoes, and get active. Actively love Him and others, by doing those things which only a believer would do, that only Jesus would do.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hello 2011!

To my blog followers, I wish you all a Happy New Year as we embark on the next 365 or so days of the year 2011. I would like to state that I have not made, as they term them, "new year's resolutions" since I keep coming up with the same resolutions each week and to state them at the beginning of the new year would be redundant, and show my inadequacy in upholding them.

All this set aside, I would like to focus on my health (go with me on this one) in four aspects this year, and make that a priority, the four being Spiritual, Physical, Mental, and Emotional. I recognize that my quiet time could use some work, and I want to be more diligent in digging into the Scriptures instead of skimming mere words on the page. I want to grow in my prayer life, so that I approach God with a better understanding of who He is, which in turn helps me understand who I am. Secondly, the physical. I need to make exercise a daily part of my routine. Supposedly it's good for you, but I can never maintain the habit of it long enough. When faced with the option of sleeping in, or getting up to go to the gym, the gym never stands a chance. Hopefully I can improve on that one... Thirdly, the mental aspect: I want to dive into my studies this semester and the world around me with an active and inquisitive mind, and stretch myself. This will probably be the easiest of the four goals.

And lastly, the emotional. This goes hand in hand with the Spiritual. I realize more and more, that my heart is divided. The Bible talks about the heart being the center of the person, from which everything else flows. In Proverbs we are admonished to guard our hearts, since it is the wellspring of life. I want to place my heart in the hands of my heavenly Father, so that no matter what set-backs, disappointments, or pains I encounter, I'm always resting safe and secure in Him. I do believe this may be the hardest of the four, and I know it will be a life long process. When I begin to feel overwhelmed and on the verge of a meltdown, I love recalling this psalm: "You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart my fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Psalm 73:24-26). I love it. When everything is whirling around, all that matters is you and God, and as long as those two things are straight, you have nothing to fear. That's a great comfort to me.

I don't know what your goals or resolutions are this year, but I hope that you remember what's truly important, or rather Who is truly important.