“‘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. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.’ (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)” Revelation 19:7-8 (NIV)
As most brides do, I had hopes and maybe delusions that my wedding day would be perfect. For me, it almost was. Almost.
On a steamy Saturday in May, 2001, Chad and I were preparing for our big day. My bridesmaids and I drove to the church and went to the makeshift bridal suite to start getting ready.
I don’t remember how long it was, but a little later, one of my bridesmaids came in and said, “Whit, you need to get up to the sanctuary now because there’s a massive storm headed our way, and if we don’t get you into the sanctuary, you may have to walk in the rain.”
The church where we were getting married had two separate buildings. And there wasn’t a way for me to get from where I was to the vestibule where I would walk down the aisle unless I went outside. This was our window, and we needed to move.
We gathered all our stuff and made the walk to the sanctuary. The gorgeous blue sky that welcomed us as we arrived was hidden by ominous, dark clouds. Yes, a storm was imminent.
Happy wedding day.
We piled into the foyer, but quickly realized it wouldn’t do for the bride to stand there greeting all the guests when they arrived. The only option we had was to file into the ladies’ restroom. It was like a bad joke … How do you fit a bride and 10 bridesmaids into a bathroom the size of a Volkswagen? As it turns out, not easily.
I spent the last hour of my single life stuffed into a church bathroom. But through it all, my bridesmaids, my best friends dressed in sea-foam green (bless!), were so kind, faithful, funny and selfless. Missi, my college roommate, had me laughing. Meredith, my soon-to-be sister-in-law, kept refilling my water. Lori and Ashley were loyal lookouts, reporting back
to me who just arrived.
It’s one of the sweetest memories of my wedding day. Each of my friends, making sure in her own way, that I was wedding-day ready — the most beautiful version of me I could be.
Similarly, the Church, the global, eternal collection of God’s people, is Christ’s Bride. And her wedding day is fast approaching. Despite the gathering clouds of external opposition and internal grumbling, all who are made alive in Christ — single, married, divorced or widowed — need to be doing our part to make her wedding-day ready.
Friend, it is theologically true that we, the Church, are the Bride of Christ. She is beautiful and beloved. (Revelation 21:2) Our wedding and reception, called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, will be the most perfect, extravagant party you can imagine. (Revelation 19:6-10)
However, in some ways, we serve another wedding-day role: bridesmaids.
Part of our job is making sure the Bride (Christ’s Church) is as lovely and ready as she can be. Our goal is for the Bride to look radiant. We are partly responsible for what those outside the Christian faith think of her.
Revelation 19:7-8 explains this for us: “‘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. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.’ (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)”
That might sound good, but maybe you haven’t seen the Bride. Perhaps you’ve been bulldozed by more of a bridezilla. Oh friend, I know the pain the Church can inflict. I truly, truly do.
But even when our hurts are legitimate and deep, the challenge is for us to remember Jesus loves His Bride. He doesn’t ignore her flaws or shortcomings, and Jesus never, never condones abuse. Christ loves the Church He died for. So today, let’s fluff her dress and straighten her veil. She may not be perfect, but she’s the Bride.
Dear God, even when my hurts are real, help me look for the best in the Bride. I want to see the Church the way You do. Let me see the most beautiful parts of her. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
Ephesians 5:28-30, “In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church — for we are members of his body.” (NIV)
In Sick of Me: From Transparency to Transformation, Whitney Capps shows us that spiritual growth means being both honest and holy — that we can come to Jesus just as we are, but we cannot stay that way. While virtues like vulnerability, honesty and humility are desperately needed, we should fight for more. If you want to be honest about all your junk, but you’re also sick of staying there — Sick of Me is for you.
For more encouragement on healthy community, follow Whitney on Instagram, @whitneycapps.
If you’ve been hurt by the Church or community, you can get Whitney’s free “Healing from Church Hurt” download at www.whitneycapps.com.
REFLECT AND RESPOND
Sometimes when we experience deep hurts, it’s key to be honest with God in our prayers. If that’s you, write a prayer asking the Lord to help you see one lovely thing the Church, His Bride, brings to the world.
How can you commit to accentuate the beauty of your local church? Share your thoughts in our comments today.
© 2019 by Whitney Capps. All rights reserved.