I’m not one for sitting or standing around while others shop for clothes. But there was this one day when it was actually enjoyable. It was the day our daughter Rebekah chose her wedding gown. I wasn’t there for the whole process. By the time I arrived, they had narrowed the choice down to two or three. Even then it took time to try them on, but it was all worth it. Several months later all eyes were on Rebekah and that special dress as I walked her down the aisle.
The next facet of the diamond of who we are in Christ is part of the bride. In the same way that the church is referred to as a body made up of many parts, it is also called the bride of Christ. The picture of the church as a bride always looks forward to the culmination of the age and the return of Christ. In the picture of the bride there is a concrete feeling of “already and not yet.” We are the bride of Christ but the wedding day is not yet here. It’s that picture of the days and months prior to a wedding that gives dimension to this facet. At the beginning of that time, there is a pledge, which in our culture is sealed with an engagement ring. The prospective bride and bridegroom pledge themselves to each other. Then begins all of the preparations for the wedding day. On the right day, in the right place, at the right time, the bride and bridegroom fulfill their pledge and commit to the promise of togetherness.
Think about how many things change when a woman responds with “yes” to “will you be my wife?” Those simple words begin a journey towards a day. They express a pledge not only to get married but to enter into a lifelong commitment of love and togetherness. The beginning of our walk with Christ is like a woman saying “yes.” We’ve made a decision. We think we know all of the implications but there will also be surprises along the way. And like the engagement ring, God also seals our commitment to Jesus with a gift. Paul writes, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:13–14, NASB95) None of us can predict the challenges we will encounter as the wedding day approaches. But the Holy Spirit is there to remind us that the day is coming and that we need to prepare.
The days and hours before the wedding are filled with preparation. Arranging for all of the things needed for the wedding day, the reception to follow, and the creation of a new household. We all look forward to that first glimpse of the bride as she walks down the aisle. John writes in Revelation, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” (Revelation 19:7–8, NASB95) We are in those days of making ourselves ready. Purity and freedom from sin come to mind, but John also points out that the fine linen is also the righteous deeds of believers. But God does not leave it all up to us. Paul writes, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:25–27, NASB95) Unlike modern wedding days when the bride does 95% of the work and the groom’s biggest job is to show up, Jesus has done and is doing all that is needed to make us ready. That is, if we let Him. Each day between saying “yes” to Jesus and the wedding feast is a day of preparation, of making ourselves more and more ready.
The days of preparation look forward to the day of promise. The day when, like a wedding day, we fully enter into promises of a life together. The pledge of engagement is fulfilled and new promises are made while standing at the doorway of forever. Likewise the marriage feast with Jesus ushers in many wonders and promises of our forever life together with Christ. In Revelation, an angel says, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:9b, NASB95) The angel takes John to a high mountain and shows him the new Jerusalem sparkling and jeweled. John writes “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:22–23, NASB95) God’s desire to dwell with His creation is fulfilled. What was broken in the garden is restored and magnified into a city. Isn’t together forever the promise of the wedding day? That is the same promise Jesus holds out to us. To be His bride, to be together forever.
When we shine the light of Jesus on this facet of the diamond of who we are in Christ what do we see? This facet shines with the radiance of a bride preparing for that special day. We look forward with longing as we also make ourselves ready for that day. The only difference is that we don’t know when that day will be. So each day is a day of hope, of longing, of preparation and also fulfilling our pledge to be faithful. But even while we can look at this on a personal level we must also remember that the church is the bride. All of us who have said yes or will yet say yes to Jesus are the bride. And who makes the bride ready? Jesus does. Who cherishes the bride? Jesus does. Who protects the bride? Jesus does. Our responsibility is to simply get ready.