Evangelist Roger Whipp tells this story:
“Love is one of the most powerful emotions we have. The actress Joan Crawford once said, “Love is a fire but whether it warms your heart or burns your house down, you can never tell!” Love can motivate, give pleasure, hurt, even destroy. It can make us do bold, even stupid things.
During the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell, sentenced a soldier to be shot for his crimes. The execution was to take place at the ringing of the evening curfew bell. However, the bell did not sound. The soldier’s fiancé had climbed into the belfry and clung to the great clapper of the bell to prevent it from striking. When she was summoned by Cromwell to account for her actions, she wept as she showed him her bruised and bleeding hands. Cromwell’s heart was touched and he said, “Your lover shall live because of your sacrifice. Curfew shall not ring tonight!” As Christians, portrayed in the bible as brides of Christ who is the Bridegroom, we too have a lover who gives us life because of his sacrifice. We are told that one day the Bridegroom will return and we shall be reunited and honeymoon, so to speak, in heaven.”
What does it mean to be the bride of Christ? It would make sense to look at holy matrimony to find the answer. In a common Christian wedding ceremony, you will hear the officiant ask the couple to be married, to make these vows:
“Will you have this man/woman to be your wedded wife/husband, to live together in the holy estate of matrimony as God ordained it? Will you nourish and cherish him/her as Christ loved His body, the Church, giving herself up for her? Will you love, honor, and keep her/him alone, so long as you both shall live?
To be the bride of Christ means to be provided for and cherished with a passion we could never match. It includes a bridegroom that will go to any length to save, love and honor us now and forever with a devotion we could never imagine.
Revelation 19:7-9 describes this union saying, “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 granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”
Because our deeds have been made righteous through the blood of the perfect sacrifice, we now look forward to the marriage supper of the lamb where we will remain forever united with Christ as His bride.
And as His bride we can forever be sure that His devotion to us will never wain and that His faithfulness toward us will never be tested. We can have peace in knowing that His focus will never leave us nor will His attention be diverted. He will be the perfect bridegroom and His commitment to us will stay true for all of eternity.
This is the kind of love that Christ would have us emulate. Just as the bride dedicates her life to the groom so we are asked to submit our lives to Christ. Just as our Savior showed us His love by making the supreme sacrifice, so he wishes us to sacrifice ourselves for each other.
Ephesians 5:25-30 paints us a picture of this kind of dedication saying, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.”
Together, as the body and bride of Christ, we can show the same kind of affection to others as Christ shows to us. Because of our fallen nature it will never be as true, but we can strive each day to show the love the bridegroom has for us, His bride, by how we treat each other.
Let us together prepare ourselves for the marriage supper and the honeymoon which will last forevermore. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us Your Son to be our bridegroom. Help us to remain devoted to Him as He is to us. Prepare us in righteousness to be ready for our union with Christ in heaven. Amen.