My husband and I are taking a class at our church, Woodland Hills, called Discover the Kingdom (DK). We are only 2 weeks in and I can tell we are going to really be learning a lot in it. It's inspiring me to come back here to write a bit.
The past week was on Christ and the metaphors he used surrounding Jewish marriage during his 3 year ministry. I've heard the bride church metaphor before, but this really shed some amazing light for me.
Context is everything. It turns out, in a first century context, marriage was much different than modern day. Then it went something like - an engagement, a betrothal and then a marriage.
So whats a betrothal? A betrothal came immediately after an engagement. It was a period about one year long, when the husband-to-be would go back to his land and build the house for him and his new bride. The bride, would be home gathering cloth to make her wedding dress and learning necessary skills to being a housewife, as well as saying goodbyes to her family if she was moving to a new land.
Then, one day, the husbands father would decide it was time and would go to his son and tell his son that today is his wedding day, and they would leave. The bride would have no warning except for the arrival of her husband to be.
Oh yes, and once engaged, you had to legally divorce someone to be UN-betrothed. Although you had not yet been officially married, and the marriage had not yet been consummated, to break of a betrothal, you had to legally divorce your fiance.
Now, Christ used bride language throughout his whole ministry. Indeed, right before he was crucified he told his disciples that he was going away to prepare a place for them in his fathers house. He also talked about his ministry years as the celebration of engagement, stating that you do not fast when the bridegroom is with you, suggesting that he is the bridegroom, and there is something to be celebrated before he goes away to prepare a place.
So, what does this mean?
To me, it means that my life is meant to be a dedicated faithful service to my savior, my God, who is working to prepare a place for me and all others who love Him. I see myself now as needing to work to prepare my heart and my life to honor my bridegroom, and to prepare to dwell with him for eternity in His fathers house.
Just like getting married is an adjustment, it will be an adjustment to dwell with Christ in this new house when he returns for us. That is why we need to work diligently now to live in such a way that honors him - so that when we do join him, we can be filled with joy to be with him, not filled with resentment of the change.
How do we do this? How can we work to be the most beautiful bride Christ could imagine when he returns?
Follow his commandments and clothe ourselves in our beautiful dress -
Like the brides of Israel we need to work with our community to make a gown that honors and stuns our bridegroom when he returns. Paul says in revelations that our cloth to make our dress out of is our relationships.
This is the heart of Jesus.
That we can work together to build a fabric of relationships that is fitting for the bride of the universe.
Love thy neighbor.