Dear Morning Devotion Group: Thank you for journeying along with me during my #2 Pencil Faith. I would like to bind Pencil Faith in some way and make it available to people I counsel. I am giving you a link to a complete copy here (https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7GqLrK4V0HbNzBhUWE3bzY4Rms/edit?usp=sharing), and ask that anyone with the gift of editing make me aware of glaring typos and other errors. Also, please don’t distribute the copy widely as I might try to sell it someday to take care of Jane and me in our old age. Today we begin a new study on the Bride of Christ, the Church. I hope you enjoy it! Blessings, Larry Jones.
Chapter 1 – Welcome Home
Marriage unites a man and a woman in the holiest of human relationships, but it almost always involves more than two people. When I married my wife, I was adopted into her family. Of course, her family members were “in-laws” by definition, and my wife and I were clear on the biblical concept of “leaving and cleaving”. Yet, in practical terms, I functioned like a naturalized citizen, and my wife’s parents treated me like a son.
Now my wife and I have a daughter-in-law of our own. It’s strange in a way. She wasn’t born into our family. We didn’t care for her as an infant, clothe her, feed her or take her to the doctor when she was sick. Someone else attended her school events, soccer games and award ceremonies. But when our son pledged his life to her, we welcomed her into our family and loved her as our own.
In the Bible, we find a similar dynamic. When we give our lives to Christ, we become a part of His church family. Regardless of who we are, where we come from, or what we have done, we are welcomed home by others who have received the same grace.
In his first letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul encourages believers to treat one another as brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers (1 Timothy 5:1-2). When the Corinthian church struggled with moral purity, Paul reminded they had been called out of idolatry by a Father who chose them as His sons and daughters (2 Corinthians 6:18).
These new relationships are easy to understand, because they mirror our experiences in our biological families. While it is true the spiritual family of the church is joined together in Christ, and grounded in grace, we are still in familiar territory as we worship, serve and grow together.
However one family word picture, the Bride of Christ, feels more mysterious in nature. This Bride represents the collective church, made up of those who have been washed clean and given the gift of eternal life. Her mystery is more than a feeling. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul used the metaphor of a husband’s love for his wife to describe Christ’s love for His church. He concludes, “This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32 NIV).
If you are in Christ, you are a part of His family, complete with fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters. And you are His Bride, in community with others. Is this awkward for you?