April 10, 2008
Loving the Bride
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” Revelation 19:7 (NIV)
Years ago during the midst of a really trying time in our church, I cried out to the Lord in frustration one morning. I had a bargain that I thought sounded like a great idea. “Lord,” I said, “I would really like to have You without the church. I mean, wouldn’t that be OK? I’m not giving up my faith in You. I just don’t want to have anything to do with the church anymore.” I was worn out from strife, bickering, and factions. I was confused about the purpose of church and why God would want me to be part of something that was causing so much stress and sleeplessness.
The next thought that I had clearly was not my own, because it was definitely not the answer for which I was longing. “Amy, if someone wanted to be your friend and love you without loving Barry (my husband), how would you feel about that?”
Even though I was starting to have an idea about where this was going, I answered honestly. “Lord, you know that I couldn’t have a close relationship with anyone who didn’t love my husband, too. Barry is too much a part of me. Anyone who loves me gets Barry as part of the package.”
That still, small voice continued, “Amy, the church is my bride. You cannot have me without my bride.”
I was stunned. I had never before thought of my relationship with the church in that way. Not only was I to love the church because of God’s love for it, but I am also to be part of the church which God calls as His bride.
Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” It’s not always easy being a member of a church. There are people there, you know? I joke that if I found the perfect church, it wouldn’t be perfect anymore the minute I joined! Yes, often church involves the messiness of humanity as much as than the encouragement of divinity.
As I mature, I’m seeing some of that messiness as God’s way of growing me up. It forces me to choose between offense or grace, between bitterness or forgiveness and between selfishness or service. When I make the right choices, I become a little more like Him and help to create a more radiant bride. That makes being part of a church worth it.
Lord, will you help me to find a church in which I can grow and encourage others? Because I love You, I want to be part of the church that you call to be your radiant bride. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
6 Habits of Highly Effective Christians by Brian T. Anderson & Glynnis Whitwer
Sandpaper People: Dealing with Others Who Rub You the Wrong Way, by Mary Southerland
Visit Amy Carroll’s blog
If you haven’t been part of a church in a while, begin to visit one. I know that it’s sometimes hard, but God has a church for you to participate in.
If you already belong to a church, begin to pray for others who you can invite to be part of your church family. Someone who is hurting would love for you to reach out to them!
Have I let hurt from churches in the past impede my spiritual growth and walk with Jesus in the present?
Am I part of the problem or solution at my church?
Acts 2:42-47, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (NIV)
© 2008 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Thursday, 10 April 2008.