Monday, January 17, 2011

The Church and Happily Ever After

Last month I did a great study that really got me thinking about the church. Since writing is a great way to process what you learn, I'd like to invite you to share in my learning.

When we hear the word "church" we think many things. For me I at first picture the little white country church I grew up next to. Then the image shifts to the faces I see ever Sunday. Another shake of the word, and I think bigger and picture believers in all their array of cultures bowing before the king. So why a study on the church? Why is the church important? How is the church a body? Why am I talking about brides and weddings?

The church is called to be God’s witness to the world and to bring God glory here on earth. There is the global church made of all who believe that Jesus- died for their sins, -is alive, and -is coming for them one day! But the global church is made up of smaller groups of believers who gather locally to meet and carry out God’s mission in their neighboring areas.

Romans 12:5 reminds us that the church is made of many members, but is united as one. It’s truly an amazing plan. You and I are each gifted in individual and specific ways. None of has all we need to walk through this life on earth. It’s a given that we need God for every aspect of life, but God also created us to need the gifts other have, much like your body needs your legs, and your heart needs your lungs. You have a role in His church. God doesn’t need you, but instead has graciously included you in His work and wants to take you on a wild adventure with Him as He works in and through you.

The church is also compared to a bride several places in the Bible. In II Corinthians 11:2 Paul desires to present believers as a pure bride to her husband. He also uses the idea of a bride when he uses the relationship of Jesus and the church to teach husbands and wives how to treat each other in Ephesians 5. The imagery culminates in John’s vision in Revelation 19:6-9 when the wedding of the Lamb is joyfully celebrated. The Lamb, Jesus, is completing His marriage to His beloved, the church.

Talk about a love story! He’s betrothed to the church, specially picked for Him by his father. He offers her the bride cup at his last supper. He prays for her. He pays the bride price for her with is own blood. He leaves her a written agreement, His very living Word. And he goes to prepare a place for her in His father’s house. He promises that He will come again for her when the Father tells him it is time. And until then, during the waiting time she is to commit herself to holiness and prepare herself for her groom. One day the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace will ride to her again on a white horse, sweep her off her feet and carry her home to heaven. There the kingdom will be fulfilled and all will be well forever and ever. Now that may sound like a fairy tale, but it’s in God’s Word and so we know it’s not a made up fantasy.

So does that mean believer should just sit back and wait for her hero to return? Not really. Stick with me and we’ll see why our involvement in the church is such a big deal!

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