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? :)