Well Worth Writing about … Again
In ninth grade I savored a small taste of glory. A good friend persuaded me to join the Future Farmers of America at school. My parents were not farmers, but I lived in a farming community so I gave it a try. The FFA excels at two things in particular, creating agricultural related contests… and giving awards to the contest winners. And so it wasn’t long before I found myself on the dairy cattle judging team. Yes… I can judge the qualities of cows. We trained long and hard the whole year and by the end of the effort you could put four cows in front of me and I could rank them best to worst and lecture for half an hour as to the reason why. Thus prepared we entered the state FFA dairy cattle judging contest at the State University. I still remember judging all those sets of cows, a wet-behind-the-ears high school freshman, even praying that if God helped me to win I would be his witness. (BTW, that is not a recommended prayer, though God did later call me to be his witness. Simple obedience without bargaining with God is the wise course.) The next day at the award ceremony I was hoping that I might have at least placed in the competition. Suspense grew and the winners were announced beginning with 10th place. I listened for my name with great anticipation, but by the time they got down to 2nd place my name wasn’t called and I quit listening. I concluded that once again delusions of grandeur had unseated my sensibility. So I returned from the clouds only to be jolted by an elbow in my ribs, ‘Get up there Jeff! You won first place!’ …Say what?!?!
That was a mere earthly award and long forgotten by most, save my children, who hear the story from time to time, and my wife who dusts the trophy, wondering if we really need a lifelike scale model of the ‘Ideal Holstein Cow’ on our shelf. But what if instead there was an award that eclipsed every earthly prize and gripped our soul and imagination like no other? What if someone elbowed you and I in our seats and said, ‘Get up there girl! Get up there boy! You won the greatest award that can be won!’ Such is the prize in store for every last man, woman, and child chosen for forgiveness by God’s grace. Consider the utter tongue tying awesomeness of the undeserved gifts of grace we’ve been given. First, we are created in the very image of God! Imagine the best and most perfect father, brother, husband, friend, beneficiary, counselor, and more all rolled into one. That is God and he designed us to be like him! We are not God, but we are created in his image to be like him, reflections of his great glory. Second, though we’ve fallen into sin, God gives us the privilege (and command) of walking with him by faith, and watching him miraculously use even the evil in our lives for the good… if we patiently wait for his timing. Though sin has terribly marred his image in us, God’s purpose is only the greater good. His purpose is that we would receive and thus reflect his most dazzling character quality, his grace in forgiving and blessing undeserving rebels through his Son’s sacrifice. And third, one grand day in the near future, also by his grace, all his people will be freed from the last chains of sin finally and forever, and be wholly restored to the likeness of his glorious image. We are given eternal loving friendship and brotherhood with God and his children, and no more fights, ever!
Friend, the Bible explains clearly in I John 2:2 (WEB), "And he is the atoning sacrifice† for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world." So I elbow you in your seat. ‘Wake up boy! Wake up girl! You could not earn an award this great. YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN THE GREATEST PRIZE THAT CAN BE GIVEN, GUARANTEED BY GRACE ALONE!’
OK Since the Prize is Guaranteed
Since the prize is guaranteed for every individual chosen for forgiveness, and since we have confidence not in ourselves, but in the work of Christ, if we are Christians, let’s rest from fear for a moment to reflect again on the prize that awaits us. We are guaranteed to be freed from the last chains of sin finally and forever, and wholly restored to the likeness of his glorious image to enjoy eternal loving friendship and brotherhood with God and his children, and no more fights ever! Unbelievable! We will have absolutely no more conflict, but instead eternal love, friendship, and brotherhood serving one another with our bodies, souls, and spirits perfected into the likeness of his glorious image. Consider a few of the ways he created us to be like him. He is the Creator that created good and very good in the beginning. And like God, Mankind is designed by God to create also, now fallen however, we are frustrated with the fragile and broken things we create with our self-centered aims, but then, when like him, ‘the Master of All Good Workmen shall set us to work anew!’ He is the Heavenly Father that made us his children and showers us with his unconditional love. And like God, Mankind is designed by God to father also, now fallen however, fathers nag, fret, and argue conditions hoping to keep our families on the straight and narrow, but then, when like him, we will eat, work, play, dance, and sing, as happy children in the house of the one Father of all our spirits. He is the older brother that willingly walked in our shoes without a stumble and calls us brothers in spite our stumbling. And like God, Mankind is designed by God for brotherhood also, now fallen however, we often condemn our brothers for their failures…while coddling our own weaknesses, but then, when like him, we will cheer for the success of everyone else with no thought of our own estate, and we too will be blessed beyond measure. This is great hope, not the hope of wishful thinking, but the hope of guaranteed, promised blessing. True hope!
And lastly He is our bridegroom waiting to wed us in Heaven. God also created us male and female for marriage to even more intimately express his image in mankind. For Christ is the true bride groom, the bride groom who prepares our bridal suite in glory, whose engagement ring we wear, if we know ourselves to be his. And like God's relationship to us, Mankind is designed to reflect his love for us in the marriage of a husband and wife. Now, fallen, most of mankind rejects his marriage proposal and even if we know ourselves to be his, we wrestle with doubts or flirt with the handsome things of this world. Unbelievers do not wrestle with doubts but reject his marriage proposal without conscience, and they also reject his very image within us as reflected in Biblical marriage. Nonetheless if there are doubts now… there will be no doubts then when his chosen people see him face to face and not one member of his bride is missing or blemished. He will welcome us to his wedding banquet for feast and fellowship and take us into his chambers in marital consummation for eternity. Bride of Christ make your wedding dress white with his red blood shed for us! Make ready, for he calls, and his arrival is now even closer than before. The Bridegroom is at the gates!
His Consummate Wedding and Marital Union
What a wonderful discovery to find ourselves created in God’s likeness. He is the Creator, our Heavenly Father, our older brother. And like him, though in a lesser degree we are creators, fathers, and brothers. And these are only a few of the more well known dimensions of God’s image reflected in us. But the one dimension that has gripped my soul and imagination the most is that he is our Bridegroom and we are his chosen bride. And those that believe in him look forward to the consummate wedding that will inaugurate eternity.
Scripture reveals a great mystery,
22) Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23) For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the assembly, being himself the savior of the body. 24) But as the assembly is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their own husbands in everything.
25) Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the assembly, and gave himself up for it; 26) that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, 27) that he might present the assembly to himself gloriously, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without defect. 28) Even so husbands also ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. 29) For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord also does the assembly; 30) because we are members of his body, of his flesh and bones. 31) "For this cause a man will leave his father and mother, and will be joined to his wife. The two will become one flesh." 32) This mystery is great, but I speak concerning Christ and of the assembly. 33) Nevertheless each of you must also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Ephesians 5:22-33 (WEB)
There are numerous mysteries revealed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet one of the greatest mystery revealed to us is the image of God designed into mankind expressed in the marriage of a husband and wife. The awesome union of God the Father with God the Son cascades to the union of God the Son, the Bridegroom, with the church, His bride, which further cascades to the reflection of his glorious image in the marital union of a simple husband and wife. Marriage itself was created by God to be a reflection foreshadowing the grandest, the greatest, the most majestic wedding that ever will be as Christ the Bridegroom closes this world’s history to commence eternity marrying his bride, the church. Our humble physical intimacy with husband and wife becoming ‘one flesh’ is a tiny taste of the ecstasy that awaits the saved when our union with Christ is face to face and our veil of sin removed forever.
Our lives are real stuff, but they are a mere metaphor, a shadow, compared to the reality that is coming. God himself purposed the frustration of the world we live in now. No doubt this brokenness ranges from the petty to the nightmarish for both you and me. Yet God decreed our bondage to sin in order demonstrate his most amazing grace in our lives. And so even though we were wonderfully created in the image of God at the first, now we are marred with sin. His image within us is not defaced beyond recognition, but we could be considered garbage now compared to the glorious transformation that awaits for us. So for now the things we create break and fail, earthly fathers and families miss the mark, brothers and friends let us down, and even blessed marital union is less than a perfect fit or never fits due to this world’s brokenness. Standing in our own weakness and sin we are uncomfortably fit, poorly fit, badly fit, misfits, and unfit.
But the great news is that though we are not fit, God is perfectly fit, and we are also a perfect fit in him. Consider Jesus’ words from the upper room once again.
8) Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us."
9) Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you such a long time, and do you not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father. How do you say, 'Show us the Father?' 10) Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I tell you, I speak not from myself; but the Father who lives in me does his works. 11) Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me; or else believe me for the very works' sake. 12) Most certainly I tell you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also; and he will do greater works than these, because I am going to my Father. 13) Whatever you will ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14) If you will ask anything in my name, I will do it. 15) If you love me, keep my commandments. 16) I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, that he may be with you forever: 17) the Spirit of truth, whom the world can't receive; for it doesn't see him and doesn't know him. You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you. 18) I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you. 19) Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more; but you will see me. Because I live, you will live also. 20) In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21) One who has my commandments and keeps them, that person is one who loves me. One who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and will reveal myself to him."
John 14:8-21 (WEB)
God the Father and God the Son are perfectly fit together. Jesus is ‘in the Father’ because he obeys his father’s will. The Father is ‘in the Son’ because he puts his commands in his obedient Son. The union of the Father and the Son is nothing but constant purpose and pleasure to perfection. And our union with Christ is designed with the same goal. We are ‘in the Son’ if we obey Christ’s will. And ‘Christ is in us’ because his commands live in the obedient. But we do not always obey his commands and so purpose and pleasure are traded for pain. Yet, Praise God, there is an additional saving dimension to our relationship with Christ. We are ‘in the Son’ because God has hid our sin from his wrath ‘inside’ the protective grace of Christ. Our sin is hidden from view of God’s wrath against sin, restoring pleasure out of thankfulness for Christ. And ‘Christ is in us’ if he has entered our being to empower us to do his will, restoring purpose by enabling us to serve God. So God the Father and God the Son are in joyful union, perfectly fit together, and God the Son and his chosen people are also the perfect match and fit for a perfect union. We are sinners needing a savior, and Christ is the savior who chooses to save us! This is the only marital union planned for heaven and eternal joy.
Our Corrupted Weddings and Marital Unions
Normally if our possessions become marred, defaced, or corrupted we toss them to the trash. If they are trash, then the trash is where they belong! And frankly we ourselves and our marriages are trash and worse than infectious trash because of how terribly sin has defaced God’s image in us. Remnants of God’s image are discernible, yes, but the poisonous corruption laced throughout our existence makes us an offense to anything holy. We ourselves would not aid and abet criminals in our own household. How much less should holy God overlook unholy sinners in his household. And he cannot overlook us. In fact we would be trashed by God, except for one thing, his gracious choice to save. God has chosen to demonstrate his marvelous grace in redeeming, restoring, and setting his unconditional love upon mankind, the unworthy recipients of his mercy and favor. We all deserve his damning fire, but he has given us his passionate fire.
And since God has chosen to redeem and restore our broken lives we are therefore commanded to strive to remove the evil from our corrupted lives and marriages, restoring marital union to be the reflection of his image and the union that exits between the Father and the Son, and the Son and the Church. We read, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the bed be undefiled; but God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers” (Hebrews 13:4 WEB).
Much work remains to be done to clean house in the church of God so that we could be the lighthouse we are called to be to our lost world. We are plagued with all the same corruptions within our own ranks as can be found in the world. Marriage is dishonored among us through divorce which God hates, remarriage instead of reconciliation, separation, estrangement, wife beatings, homosexuality resulting from ingratitude, fornication on every street, spousal silent treatments, murder of our marital fruits, chauvinistic rejection of God’s design in sexuality, genderless ideals, pornography for fast pleasure with zero relationship, smutty books otherwise known as female porn, lustful looks across church pews, and lustful displays by women dressed like the world. These things dishonor God’s design in marriage and defile our marriage beds.
Perhaps at the pinnacle of recent offenses is the William P. Young’s spiritual tale The Shack. How this book can be acclaimed by noteworthy Christian leaders and so many Christian laity baffles my mind. One review compared the historic value of Young’s book to Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Friends, our sensibility is castrated. At the heart of the offense Young portrays our God as a woman. To be sure the Christian faith, more than any other movement, has elevated women to their proper dignity. God works through woman just as significantly as men. Today in Sunday school we were also reminded from Luke 8 that the very ministry of our savior Jesus Christ was financed by women. All this is true, and it is a perfectly good thing to proclaim that God works equally through both men and women, but to then move with Young and portray God as a woman is a rattle snake strike at the very heart of the image of God created within mankind. One can only hope that Young penned his book in utter ignorance. Click here for a thorough review of The Shack.
Consider again God’s incredible gift given to mankind. First we are made in his image, second we are redeemed through his Son, and third we are promised perfect restoration to his image in glory. Perhaps Satan’s envy over our marvelous position is part of what drives his determination to harm us with his lies and his gross caricatures of our Savior commonly found in books like The Shack. So let’s remind ourselves once again of the truth from God’s word, “God created man in his own image. In God's image he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27 WEB). So we see that maleness and femaleness is one brilliantly shining aspect of God’s image that he has shared with mankind. But do not be ignorant. Do not neuter our God. This does not mean that HE is both HE and SHE!
Instead God created us in his image as male and female to even better illustrate his absolute maleness. Yes, that is right! If there ever was an Alpha Male worthy of honor, it is our God, because he is also the Alpha Leader in humility and kindness. HE IS THE HUNK WE WANT! You may ask how this can be. Consider a sentence from a previous article, The Image of God in Man.
So not only is male and female marital union an expression of the image of God, but a husband’s self-sacrifice for his wife is also a picture of Christ and the church. Paul says this is a great mystery. God not only showed his self-sacrificing male husbandly nature to us, his female bride, by dying on the cross, but also calls us creaturely male husbands to the same nature of self-sacrifice for our female wives. This is why God created us male and female to fully express his male nature, because he also fully shares his nature of self-sacrifice for us, with us, so we can live self-sacrificially for each other as he for us and ultimately be joined with him in perfect unity.
The concept above may be difficult to grasp, but if you come to understand it then you will truly appreciate the awesome value of both men and women, and just how incredible God’s gift of marriage is to mankind. And even harder for me to grasp is that Christ would create and recreate us to be like him, yet so foundationally different, for power, authority, and grace only ever flow from him to us. Likewise, God has made wo-man like man, fe-male like male, yet also so wonderfully different. It is this likeness and difference that is sized so perfectly for us to be 'in Christ' and Christ to be 'in us', in the proper order. And it is our likeness... and difference that makes sanctified union so thrilling, yet so easily misunderstood. For everyone believes to some degree that it is good to be good, that is we want goodness to dwell within us. Though unfortunately since sin has entered the world our notions of what is good are skewed. However, very few believe and understand that it is possible for the sinful to have union with goodness, for the petty to have union with the magnificent. That is the mystery revealed in the gospel, that mankind, though sinful, is safely hidden from God's wrath in Christ, and he is in the believing empowering us to do his will. The marital union of husband and wife is a beautiful reflection of God's saving relationship with mankind, that the elect are in him and he is in the believing. And sadly you will also realize that male chauvinists, woman’s libbers, and gender neutrality causes are the ones guilty of the great crimes of selfishness and rejecting God’s beautiful design within themselves. They have lost a great blessing, but God’s grace reaches even to these depths. The beginning of understanding may be to agree that Christ our bridegroom is male and that he courts his female bride, the church. And since he is the author of true romance he initiates and we respond. Is your heart cold or passionate for such a romance?
Fallen mankind has broken, abused, and misused their very selves, even defacing the most intimate aspect of God’s image shared with us. The three pictures below represent corruptions and misapplications of God’s image in us. It is as if we were given a fine china dish only to use it as an ash tray. It might work after a fashion, but how much more fitting to use the dish to eat cherry pie alamode instead! Or it is as if we were given a 2x4 stud and used it as a shovel to eat our fill. You might be able to use a board as a spoon, but with our eyes open and sensibility awake something is clearly amiss. Instead, lumber is for building shelves to hold fine dishes which are used to serve cherry pie! What about you? Are you too broken to be broken over our brokenness illustrated by lesbianism, homosexuality, and transgender confusion?
The awesome news is that even though God’s image in mankind has been defaced, mankind will be restored perfectly into his image forever in glory. The two pictures below illustrate one beautiful aspect of God’s image that he has shared with us. God is revealed to be male caring for his female creation and Christ as bridegroom loving his bride the church. You will note the smaller parallel image within creation and within the church. This smaller picture represents husband and wife relations which are a tiny picture of his relationship to us. This is the great mystery revealed in the gospel noted in Ephesians 5:22-33. And so now you see that when we honor marriage and keep the marriage bed undefiled we honor him and his image in us. You will note that the two images below are identical but flipped. Both images could represent God’s role as creator or as Savior. But in the first image God is on top to show that he is Almighty God over all. In the second image God is on the bottom to show that he is the humble servant of all. And even harder to diagram is the glory that he is in us and we are in him! So whether he is exerting his power on the top or he is humbly serving on the bottom or he is doing his good pleasure in us or we are comforted in him, he is always God and always male.
So we rightly challenge Young and those thumbing the nose at God and his image in us. These insolent rebels would arrive at the glorious wedding that awaits us and look our handsome groom in the face, saying, “I am the man and you are the woman.” These charlatans do not even know what an honor it is to be male and what a glory it is to be female because they do not even know what God’s purpose and design is in creating male and female. They are hopelessly ensnared in the gender wars orchestrated by Satan’s lies. Yet grace covers even these offenses, and especially so, since for most, such as I, it is ignorance that veils this glory from our view. For the Lord has reminded me of conversations with my dear mother incomplete, prayers by my aunts and uncles yet unanswered, arguments with school friends totally misunderstood, discipleship by friends also misunderstood and forgotten,… and two moments of understanding in the past prayerfully laid aside until now, according to God’s wisdom.
erhaps God's design with me is so I could fully appreciate and say to you that it is God’s gracious choice alone that makes the difference and that apart from his grace we are as foolish as we know each other to be. But today, by his strong hand alone, I testify that God is good, his creation is good, and his design in creating Eve for Adam is very good. And God's purpose for breaking my idols is so that I could also testify by God's grace that, even though God's creation is good and his design in marriage is very good, these things are only a picture of something that is even better in eternity future.
God is awesome!
Those knowing the Bible better may argue that Paul reassigns his own gender in making disciples, so what’s the big deal. For he says, “But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother cherishes her own children. …As you know, we exhorted, comforted, and implored every one of you, as a father does his own children, to the end that you should walk worthily of God, who calls you into his own Kingdom and glory” ( I Thessalonians 2:7,11-12). But it is one thing for Paul to say his ministry was like a mother and like a father and quite another to say God reveals himself as a woman. Not once in the whole of Scripture did God ever reveal himself to us as a woman. Rather, God revealed himself to us a man, the man Jesus Christ. Again this is not because women are in any way inferior to men. Instead it is to respect and honor his position as God-Bridegroom over his Church-Bride. The persistent may continue to argue that Jesus also compared himself to a female chicken saying, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets, and stones those who are sent to her! How often I would have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not!” (Matthew 23:37 WEB). Yet this simile is hardly evidence to say that God’s identity or revelation of himself to mankind is in any way female. He is the man, our bridegroom. And we believers are his woman, the church. And if the marriage of Adam and Eve in the garden was very good then the marriage of Christ and his church will be even better, in fact VERY VERY GOOD, for he is an AWESOME GOD.
Those rejecting God’s goodness are blind to the marvelous parallels God has designed between the physical and the spiritual. For example physical seed flows from husband into wife to conceive life, just as spiritual seed flows from Christ into people to conceive spiritual life. And so maleness within mankind is a picture of Christ. Also a mother doesn’t initiate life but nurtures life, just as the church nurtures spiritual life. And so femaleness within mankind is a picture of the church. But those rebelling against God’s word hamstring the strength of men and deface the beauty of women. Young and his followers find it vogue to characterize our bridegroom as a woman. Should the bride then be characterized as a man? The offense is the exact equivalent of removing the simile from our goal to be Christ-like. The Lord himself commands us to strive to be LIKE Christ, but to strive to BE Christ is to depose him. The Lord humbled himself to enter our world as a human being, but not as a woman, to remind us that he is not the church, but the Savior of the church, our bridegroom. Thankfully our wedding day with Christ will not be spoiled, for those rejecting their bridegroom will not even make it through the door. These people are rejecting their share in the bliss that awaits our marital consummation with Christ.
An Honest Question
While in conversation with the daughter of my cousin about heavenly glory she said she didn’t want to go. ‘Who wants to be a ghost and not be male or female?’ she asked. This young teen was fully enjoying being a woman with the prospects of marrying a man and anything less than this fulfillment would be like trading water for chocolate. Many Christians believe that we will be genderless or all male or all female in glory. We do read in Galatians 3:28 (WEB), “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Yet I understand this truth to be regarding our salvation and value before God. God loves and values all mankind equally whether black or white, male or female. But it should be noted that this verse must not be used to prove that God then blends all the beautiful diversity he created into a gray mud in Heaven. Instead I have concluded that since the God the Son chooses to retain his identify as Son in submission to God the Father for all eternity, I Corinthians 15:28, that God’s original creation design of reflecting his image in mankind through male and female is also retained for all eternity. Though Matthew 22:29-30 (WEB) makes it clear that marriage as we know it will be dispensed, “But Jesus answered them, 'You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like God's angels in heaven.' " God has not revealed everything, but his revealed Word is sufficient to save and also sufficient to get our hearts pounding for the glory that awaits! Do you know the Scriptures? Do you know the power of God? Is your heart pounding with passion or with fear?
The Heart of the Matter
So how do we gain Christ as bridegroom and how can we even begin to make ready for a wedding and marital union with Christ, our Creator? The answer to both questions is the same. We can do nothing to earn God’s love in the first place or to encourage him to love us more. Instead we receive by faith that God already loves us unconditionally, has forgiven all our sin, and has given us every blessing possible. That is what he asks of us, simply to trust him! Additionally, we do not need to attempt to make ourselves better to get God to continue to love us after becoming a Christian. He has always loved us, loves us now, and will continue loving us forever. No effort on our part could earn the blessings he showers upon us. And no effort on our part will serve to reduce our sin and increase our holiness. We cannot change our black leopard spots. Instead we continue the Christian life the same way we started, by faith, trusting that God himself will continue the good work that he began in us, changing us to be like him. That again is what he asks of us, simply to trust him! So just like it is written in Romans 1:17 (WEB), “For in it is revealed God's righteousness from faith to faith. As it is written, 'But the righteous shall live by faith.' " Christ wants us to walk with him by faith from the beginning of the Christian life to the end. That is all. That is how we gain Christ and prepare for our wedding day.
Of course Christians should super-naturally desire to serve God out of gratitude for what Christ has done, but we still need to remind ourselves from time to time that our service cannot earn grace. Grace by definition cannot be earned. But what if we understand that and sincerely seek direction as to how to return love for God out of gratitude? For me the most significant advice on how to grow in our ability to serve is found in Mark 9:35 (WEB), “He sat down, and called the twelve; and he said to them, 'If any man wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all.'" This is so upside down, backward, and inside out from my or your natural way of thinking. I, and perhaps you too, have wasted so many years trying to make ourselves bigger thinking we would be more well equipped servants, but in the end we merely outsized ourselves wasting opportunities because of our own ignorance or worse seeking glory for ourselves. The Lord of Glory made himself smaller coming down to us laying aside his glory so he and his commands would fit into our understanding. And yet at the same time if we know him to be the biggest and only God there should be no question that we all easily fit into him. Sadly there is a prideful insecure Alpha male and selfish controlling Queen Bee inside of each of us. But if we are ready to exit that rat race and give to Christ out of gratitude for his love, then Jesus’ counsel above is the best. We must cease the efforts to make ourselves bigger and instead make ourselves last of all being willing be a true servant and friend to everyone God brings across our path. Faith and humble service are fine garments to wear to the wedding party ahead.
Our Bridegroom is a Romantic
Finally, Jesus, our bridegroom, is a romantic who loves weddings. In fact it is his full-time work right now, getting ready for his wedding! Read a few select passages of Scripture below in conclusion as you leave my thoughts to reflect on your own invitation and reception at the Lord’s banqueting table.
We see his romantic passion in Song of Solomon 1:1-2:2 (WEB).
1) The Song of songs, which is Solomon's.
2) Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth;
for your love is better than wine.
3) Your oils have a pleasing fragrance.
Your name is oil poured out,
therefore the virgins love you.
4) Take me away with you.
The king has brought me into his rooms.
We will be glad and rejoice in you.
We will praise your love more than wine!
They are right to love you.
We see his wedding mirth in John 2:1-11 (WEB),
1)The third day, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee. Jesus' mother was there. 2) Jesus also was invited, with his disciples, to the marriage. 3) When the wine ran out, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no wine."
4) Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does that have to do with you and me? My hour has not yet come."
5) His mother said to the servants, "Whatever he says to you, do it." 6) Now there were six water pots of stone set there after the Jews' way of purifying, containing two or three metretes apiece. 7) Jesus said to them, "Fill the water pots with water." So they filled them up to the brim. 8) He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the ruler of the feast." So they took it. 9) When the ruler of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and didn't know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the ruler of the feast called the bridegroom 10) and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and when the guests have drunk freely, then that which is worse. You have kept the good wine until now!" 11) This beginning of his signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
We see his demands for faith resulting in holiness in Matthew 22:8-14 (WEB),
8) "Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited weren't worthy. 9) Go therefore to the intersections of the highways, and as many as you may find, invite to the marriage feast.' 10) Those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together as many as they found, both bad and good. The wedding was filled with guests. 11) But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man who didn't have on wedding clothing, 12) and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here not wearing wedding clothing?' He was speechless. 13) Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and throw him into the outer darkness. That is where the weeping and grinding of teeth will be.' 14) For many are called, but few chosen."
Well Worth Waiting for … Still
So not only is Christ our bride groom well worth writing about but he is well worth waiting for.
I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth have passed away, and the sea is no more. 2 I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. 3 I heard a loud voice out of heaven saying, "Behold, God's dwelling is with people, and he will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more. The first things have passed away."
Revelation 21:1-4 (WEB)
Make ready for the wedding! Meet me there!