Generally speaking, I do not like weddings. In fact, weddings give me anxiety. By African standards my wedding ceremony was short- two hours and straight to the point. Don’t get me wrong, like every other girl, I grew up reading fairy tales which impressed upon me the idea of a happy-ever-after kind of love. I believe that every little girl dreams of being rescued by a handsome prince from a faraway kingdom. She longs for the day that she will walk down the aisle in the most beautiful dress and there standing at the altar to receive her, a man who will love her, fight for her and show her acts of chivalry all the days of her life.
Over the course of two weeks I have been reflecting upon the beauty of marriage, that sacred covenant that calls a man and woman to lay aside all others and cleave to each other. That covenant that demands that all pretensions be dropped. However, this post is about a different kind of wedding…a different kind of groom…a different kind of bride- the bride of Christ!
Because of the nature of my work, I have had the privilege of training in different denominations. It is always refreshing to see the lens through which other individuals view Christianity. Many times, these differences have become the basis for arguments and church splits, but this should not be the case. In 1st Corinthians 12, Paul underscores the need for the believer to understand that we are Christ’s body, with diverse roles, nevertheless, having received the same Spirit. We often perceive our spiritual gifts, church and denomination, as being better than all others’, as if we are in competition with each other. However, we are reminded that the hand cannot do without the fingers, the eyes without the ears and that what happens to one part of the body ultimately affects the whole.
“Treat every part of your towel nicely because the part that wipes your buttocks today will wipe your face tomorrow”
This crude but humorous statement, attributed to a certain African statesman emphasized what I have been reflecting on. Because we are so interconnected, it goes without saying that an action on one part of the body, results in a reaction in another part of the body. This means that if we slander another individual or denomination, we are literally slandering ourselves. If we undermine the work of another church, we have undermined our own work. But if we pray for and exhort and support another part of the body of Christ, we have essentially built up our own. This is also true for the numerous gifts the Holy Spirit gives the Church. They should always be used to encourage and build and are effective most in community. We are not called to independence, but to interdependence. No matter how gifted I am, I need the body of Christ to thrive.
I admit, that sometimes the picture I portray of the Church to those around me is less than perfect due to my weaknesses and failings. Sometimes I may come off as being a Bridezilla, but that is not how our groom views his beloved. Ephesians 5:25-27 talks about our King a) loving us b) giving himself up for c) cleansing us d) making us holy, blameless and radiant. In other words, we are made just by the finished work of the cross and when Christ looks at us he sees us through that sacrifice. That single act of heavenly chivalry guarantees that nothing can separate us from his love.
How about you? Have you distanced yourself from God because of your interaction with Christians? I urge you to reconsider. Life here on earth may not be a fairy tale, but I promise you a time is coming when- that forever after, that perfect groom, that whimsical wedding that you have read about and longed for will be a reality. Today, heaven has sent you an open invitation to come and be a part of this big family of believers. It reads:
Say yes to the groom!