In the gospels, Jesus refers to the Church as His bride. He speaks of a day when He will come for the Church and there will be a wedding ceremony like no one has ever seen! In the midst of a struggling economy, failing marriages, and brokenness everywhere I look, that is a vision that motivates me beyond my circumstances. And yet, is it a vision that is kept within the confines of Christmas? Or can we look for Jesus to come all year?
When Jesus used the marriage analogy to describe His relationship with His people, He knew that His listeners would attach certain cultural perceptions about marriage to this word picture. In Biblical times, it was common for an engaged couple to spend a year apart. The bride would spend time with her mother and other women she respected, learning to run a household and getting prepared, becoming a student of the desires and expectations of her groom. She took this time very seriously as she readied her heart and life for what was to come. The groom also spent time preparing. He would spend his time making a home for them to live in, the place he would bring his bride to with pride. Both parties had a pivotal role to play.
What a beautiful picture this is for the Church and her Bridegroom! Christ has, as promised, gone to prepare a place for us. While we are apart, we can trust that He is working to build something beautiful. But we have an equally important role to play. While we are apart, we must learn what it takes to be His bride. We must study Him, learning how to keep His house in a way that pleases Him. This is not merely a suggestion, but an expectation. We can’t lose that expectation in the shuffle of changing times and cultures! We know that He keeps His promises, so we can trust that He is building our house for us. Don’t we want to be a bride who is prepared?