Click here to read Part 1, here for Part 2 and here for Part 3 of this series.
At this time of year, the focus is on the Baby. If you focus on the incarnation long enough, you might also find yourself drawn to meditate on the Child’s future – and your own. The longing and waiting that characterize this season have more to do with the mystery of the end of all things than most of us see at first glance. The trees and tinsel obscure a clear view. But if we take the time to look, we can see glimpses of the love story. Here are the people Jesus loves:
“I say, ‘give me clarity’, you say, ‘will you marry me?’ With all due respect, Jesus, I don’t think you were cut out for religion.” – Jude Simpson
The Bible begins with images of a type of wedding – that of Adam and Eve. It ends with images of a wedding (see Revelation 21-22). The Bible leaves us with a very different picture of the church than the way most of us skeptics have known her:
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” – Rev. 21:2-4
This “New Jerusalem” is the entire community of believers from across the earth who have remained faithful to God to the end, through life’s temptations, hellish trials and his cleansing discipline. Like a pure, innocent, trusting bride longing for her wedding day, the deepest desire within each person in this community is for intimate relationship with the Son.
This powerful imagery is found in Paul’s instructions to husbands and wives (Ephesians 5:22-32). Paul tells husbands they’re to love their wives well in order to most fully express a deeper reality: “…just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (vs.25-27).
It is beyond my comprehension how God can transform the church from a weary, jaded and frequently unfaithful renegade with a kaleidoscope of personalities and addictions into a pure, innocent partner with eyes only for the Son. But that is Scripture’s story. The author of that story tells us that he sees something in the church that we don’t see in ourselves.
And though it is usually not a pretty picture, every once in a while, if I press my nose up against the glass, I think I can catch a glimpse of who the church will be…
…in the victorious spirit in the eyes of a Chinese Christians who has been imprisoned for his faith
…in the simplicity of a child reaching for my hand and asking to pray
…in the words “I’m sorry. Will you please forgive me?”
…in a piece of artwork that prisms eternity into my soul
…in an ancient hymn sung by a stranger at the bedside of a dying 82 year-old woman in a filthy, forgotten nursing home
…on Sunday morning when a tangible, bigger-than-us desire for God invites His presence among a desperate congregation
…in a conversation with a friend
Jesus loves you. May this reality permeate your worship this week as you experience the longing that no gift-wrapped box can ever satisfy.
3 thoughts on “A look at the people Jesus loves – Part 4”
After many years being your average sinning, worldly Christian with more displeasing than pleasing behavior to our Father, I have learned that the key to 'getting ready' for the Groom is obedience. He taught me to pray and ask the Spirit to help me hate sin as much as He does, and to live to please Him in my private life, even moreso than the public life. Contemporary evangelical pastors have avoided teaching the command for repentance and obedience, it is true; it is our part to influence others with what Jesus said, "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand." And what John the baptist was sent to do; "preaching repentance for forgiveness of sins unto Salvation." For to obey Jesus is to love Him. I never had real "assurance of Salvation" within my heart until I saw I must walk in obedience to the commands of the Holy Spirit. I pray that God will awaken the church to their soiled clothes that are stained with loving the things of the world; especially American believers.
I believe we must dig into the written Word and see what God hates and not do those things, so we may be as the Salt of the earth. He is beautiful and perfect – we are to imitate Him; more as we grow. Immorality on the movie screen, books, TV, clothes that tempt,lustful lips, pride, doing the practices of other religions like yoga, sexual sin, party spirit, disobedience to husbands, etc.
I hope the teachers and preachers begin to expound on verses like Hebrews 10:26-31; Romans 3:25; 1Peter 4:1-3; 2 Peter 1:9-10; 1Cor.10:11, so that a good healthy dose of the fear of God become apparent.
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife HATH MADE HERSELF READY. (Rev 19:7)
Praise be to our King!
A Sister in Christ,
Happy New Year to you! I trust you are having an enjoyable day. My name is Todd Stepp and I work for BooksChristian.com, here in Franklin, TN. We are a Christian owned & operated company that sells over 200,000 Christian products.
I have visited theparablelife.blogspot.com and have noticed that you post book reviews on your blog. I wanted to see if you would be interested in partnering with us, enabling visitors to your blog to purchase books that you review, as well as other books that you may suggest to them (books of the day etc.). In return we would pay you 9% on every sale made. There is very little work that would need to be done on your end, as we provide all the tools to create links and codes that you can post on your blog.
I would love to discuss this further with you at your earliest convenience. I look forward to hearing from you!
Thanks, Todd – but no thanks.