Modeling Christ and the Bride in Our Marriages

Have you ever wondered what the ultimate marriage looks like? I was raised by good parents who had one of the best marriages I have ever seen. But not perfect.Image

To know what the perfect marriage looks like we have to find a perfect man. There has only ever been one perfect man: Jesus Christ.

I hear someone say, “But Jesus did not marry.” But He will as Revelation 19:7-9 foretells Jesus’ wedding as the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Jesus is going to get married.

Jesus is going to be the perfect husband–already is as He faithfully and patiently waits for the Bride while Holy Spirit prepares her for Him.

Jesus is going to have the perfect marriage.

Even though it is in the future, we can look at what the Bible tells us of this concept and model Jesus’ marriage in our own marriages. By modeling Jesus’ marriage we will have incredible marriages and will be assisting Holy Spirit to prepare the Bride.

Quick note: there is controversy as to who the Bride is. I believe the Bible identifies the Bride as the Church. I read an article asking, after examining a lot of verses, whether the Bride is only part of the Church—those who are truly seeking God with all they have, who are in fact following the first and second greatest commandments. I do not have the final answer or the final say, that’s God’s job. If He wanted it to be clearer in the Bible He could have made it clearer. Perhaps it is not absolutely clear just so people will seek God harder. But we do not have to know the exact identity of the Bride in order to pursue the concept of modeling Christ and the Bride.

What does it mean to model Christ and the Bride? What concepts are encompassed in this phrase “modeling Christ and the Bride”?

With Jesus’ wedding as one of the last events on the Bible’s timeline, I believe the concept of modeling Christ and the Bride encompasses the culmination of the Bible’s entire teaching of who God is, who we are in Christ, what the end goal is, and therefore how we should live to contribute our part of the end goal.

In order to accurately model Christ and the Bride in our marriages here and now we must experientially know God, be healed and whole men and women, have at least a basic understanding of God’s goals, and be working to fulfill God’s goals.

That is the outline of what I mean by “modeling Christ and the Bride.”

This is obviously a huge topic. Posts on this topic are coming!

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Cherishing Jesus the Baby, Jesus the Man

This being the Christmas season, I was inspired to think about Jesus when He was a baby. I read the gospel accounts.

It hit me that Mary’s response to the angel’s news she would bear Jesus was not, “Yes, I am about to be married and thank you for telling me my husband and I will have a son.” No, Mary understood the angel meant immediately, so asked, “How could this be, I have not had physical intimacy with a man?”

The answer of course is that the Holy Spirit would overshadow her and work the miracle of God becoming man, of God stepping into His creation to experience it “from the inside” as it were. It is not enough to create mankind, God had to experience it!

That got me thinking. A while back I wrote a short story on the conceptual beginning of mankind, when God sat around and thought us up. I posted it in this blog as the menu page “God’s Desire.”

I realized there is a scene I could add in the planning session of Jesus getting a twinkle in His eye and saying They should not only create mankind, but that He could enter into history as a man. Not the first one. No, it would be better to long foretell of His coming, get the people desiring His coming, let the anticipation build to a fever pitch, and then surprise everyone by showing up in a very normal way, specially announced of course.

And here we see Jesus in the gospels, a baby, lying in a manger. Fully God become also fully man. Without sin. Desiring to be held, cherished, protected, joyed-over, fed, cleaned, raised, and loved. Truly Mary was blessed among women, to be the one who held Jesus, cherished Him, joyed-over Him, fed Him (nursing God?!), raised Him, and loved Him.

And it hit me. He desires that we would protect Him. He desires that we would cherish Him enough to protect Him. And that is when I got a glimpse of what holiness is. Just an angle. And here it is: one angle of holiness is love. A love that cherishes and protects. A love that sweeps away sin and death and destruction to protect the baby in your arms.

One description, one angle of His love for us is as a mother holding a new baby in her arms. He cherishes us, sweeping away sin and death and destruction to protect us.

And He wants us to do the same for Him! Even as a mother is transformed by the baby in her arms, He wants us to be transformed and sweep away our sin, deny death and destruction, out of love for Him.

We cannot do it in our own will. Many have made themselves agonizingly miserable trying. It is by grace, not works, lest any man would boast. In love there is no room for pride. He must give us the grace to be able to do it; we must open up to Him to receive the grace.

Thus He came to give us life, and life more abundantly. He came as a baby desiring to be loved and grew into the perfect sinless man desiring to be loved, and because we could not love Him how He wants He came to be the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world. Thus He endured the cross, despising its shame, for the joy set before Him! The joy of those who say, “I love You, Jesus!” The joy of the mystery of Christ and the Church. The joy of the wedding feast of the Lamb of God.

Jesus came for the joy set before Him. The joy of you saying to Him, “I love You, Jesus!”

Love produces obedience. Faith produces works. Do you love Jesus as a mother does her baby, enough to cherish Him? Enough to let Him cleanse you of sin and death and destruction to properly love Him? Enough to join Him seated at the right hand of the Father, having your priorities changed to see things from the Father’s eternal view and be motivated by the Father’s heart? Enough to say, “My corrupt nature must die because Jesus should not be touched by sin. I will pick up my cross, die daily, and follow You, Jesus, because You are worthy of the best I can give, the best I can be!”

And He will joy over you, laugh with utter delight, and with a twinkle in His eye draw you deeper into His heart, into depths of love and holiness and glory we do not yet know exist! Because there is no sin there. We start the process now to get rid of sin, and He is faithful to complete the process.

Do you love Him enough to model Christ and the Bride? Husband, love your wife as Christ loves the Church, His Bride; He gave His life for her. Wife, reverence your husband as you do Christ. Your spouse is the first place where the rubber meets the road and you will either follow Jesus’ example or not. Do it! It is worth it! Jesus is worthy!

May the love of Jesus overwhelm you this Christmas! May you truly cherish Him! May your life be transformed by His love! May your marriage bloom with His love!

How to Prepare for Marriage

I love to cook good food. The best foods take research, planning, and practice to truly delight a gourmet. Imagine you are a chef in a top culinary school preparing to be the star of your own restaurant. You would pay careful attention to learn and hone every skill you could to make sure your restaurant is a success, yes? How about your marriage?

God is the gourmet who owns the best culinary school where He invites you (and your future spouse) to train to be the star of your own marriage, in which He will either be delighted or … well, you don’t want to go there, although far too many do.

What are the three secrets to great French cooking? Butter, butter, and butter, according to the chef movie “No Reservations.” What are the three secrets to great marriages? Faith, hope and love. (Did you think I was going to say love three times? Nope!) Let’s take a look.

Faith: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) What is this substance, this evidence? It is simply trust of God’s character, His word, and His promises. This trust is best built through relationship with Him. He designed you and marriage, so go to the source and drink deep of the pure water!

Hope: You start with faith, learning to know and trust Father God through becoming friends with Jesus, which makes God’s strength and character available to you in difficult circumstances. This repeated drawing on His strength and character builds in you the ability to handle hard things calmly without complaining. In other words it develops your ability to love, which works the rest of His character in you. His character in you produces hope that will be fulfilled because of who Father God is and because His love is pouring through the Holy Spirit into you. (Romans 5:1-5, 1 Corinthians 13:4)

Love: You must be remade by Father God’s unconditional love. He pours it over you and massages it into your soul so you will live it to others, namely your spouse. So what is it? This love calmly and kindly bears tough situations and abuse. This love seeks to fulfill the needs of others. This love is humble and behaves well. This love thinks good things and rejoices in truth. This love bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things. This love never runs out and never says, “That’s it! I can’t take any more! You are going to pay!” Never. Ever. I’m serious. This love is deeper, stronger and longer than actual displays of spiritual gifts and power. This love is the beginning of eternal perfection. This love is real maturity. This love is the foreshadow of eternity, the taste of what your soul cries for from the depths of your being, and the promise that you will know Him as He knows you. Your family, friends, work and everyone else you come in contact with are your training team until your spouse shows up and becomes your primary training partner. (1 Corinthians 13:4-13)

Faith, hope and love. And the most important is the love which ties them all together. I hope you train well in these ingredients under the Master Chef before your spouse shows up, because that’s when the training goes to advanced courses. What will you say to your spouse if you have to go back and repeat basic courses when they are ready to hit the advanced courses? If there are any areas needing work, any areas you have hidden or are slacking off in, they will show up really fast!