That His Bride Be Honored
I once officiated at a “Category 1” wedding. On the weekend of the wedding a Category 1 hurricane was making landfall in our community and no one knew for sure how bad things would get. The military base chapel where the ceremony was scheduled to occur was forced to close, and the bride’s father had to negotiate two large rooms at a nearby conference center. Fortunately, the hurricane didn’t hit as hard as predicted and we were able to celebrate as family and friends while the wind howled outside.
Honestly, a part of me was afraid to venture out that day, but I knew I had no choice. You see, the bride’s mother had passed away a few years prior, and her father was fiercely determined to give his daughter the wedding day she deserved. How could I be selfish when the father of the bride was literally pouring himself out at the altar to make things work? And how could I let his deceased wife down, even as she rested in the arms of Jesus? The bride had to be honored.
I know Christ’s Bride looks ragged at times. She is misunderstood, misrepresented, and blamed collectively for the ungodly actions of a few. The neighborhood bar is praised as the place where true friends are made and the church is accused of shooting its wounded. But if this is an accurate depiction then why are so many people shot in bar parking lots, and why do their family members turn to the church for help? I am not saying authentic friendships aren’t formed in places like bars, and I am not suggesting church people always treat one another as they should. I do, however, believe the clichés people use to characterize the church are often unfair and misguided. When we accept them and speak them, we reinforce the flawed rationale those close to us use to reject Christ. It is time to stop picking on the Bride, and it is definitely time for her members to cast off their shame.
In his first letter to Timothy the Apostle Paul encouraged him to guide the church in its conduct. He wrote, “if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). We find two important principles in this verse: First, the church belongs to God. It is His household, and whether or not people behave as they should, He still claims her. Secondly, we must be encouraged to live up to the Father’s expectations and never lose sight of His glorious vision for the church on earth. We shouldn’t spend our time demeaning the Bride because she isn’t always what she should be. Instead, we should cling to God’s dream for her and rise to the challenge.
I know the church is full of sinners and often misses the mark, but you must know I am of Welsh Appalachian descent. Where my people come from you have to be really careful what you say about someone’s family, and especially someone’s daughter on her wedding day. We certainly don’t want to be blind to our faults, but we could use a little more loyalty to the household of God.
Here’s to the Bride! She is Christ’s beloved and deserves the highest honor. Our Lord died to make her holy. Why would we ever think less of the one He gave His life to save?