Summary: This sermon explores the true meaning for being the Bride of Christ. We believers are, in essence, wed to Christ through our committment as believers.
How many people watched the Royal wedding? The history made that day will stay in the minds of over two billion people who watched this young couple get married – the future King of England and his bride.
I was intrigued with the service – how it was formal for sure, I recalled being in Westminster Abby and the sound of famous old hymns took me back there. I found the prayers meaningful, and the ceremony a real glimpse of how real royalty moves forward.
But what I came away with was one phrase that was spoken by one of the bishops officiating the wedding. He was giving advice to William and Kate and in that message he talked about how they might be kind, loving and forgiving to each other all the days of their life. That, that was the foundation of a marriage filled with love, peace and joy. Then he spoke about the church, The church, he said is the ‘spouse of Christ.’ And it struck me, how far we have come from the root meaning of the ‘Bride of Christ.’ This thing we refer to offhandedly as the ‘church’ was the very thing that Christ loved the most. So much so that He referred to it as his. Organized religion, as we call it, has moved so far from the intention of Christ for His church that we hardly recognize it anymore. That phrase, put just a little differently, caught me off guard and when I heard the bishop say, “The spouse of Christ,” the very definition of the church hit me.
The past forty years have not been kind to the church. Its very servants have caused irreparable damage to the ‘spouse of Christ.’ There have been atrocities committed by clergy that will forever drive people from the church, and there are attitudinal sins committed against those who come to worship by those who gossip and nit-pick behind their backs – but who, non the less, get the point across that those people are not really welcome. Clergy are attacked personally in spite of their attempts to carry God’s Word to the people for whom they feel a calling to minister.
All of this is the unfortunate reality of the church today. But what really caught me by that phrase, ‘spouse of Christ’ was the intimacy of this thing we call the church. In 2 Cor 11:2, Paul is talking to the Corinthian church, which he founded. He said to the people, “I hope you will put up with a little of my foolishness, but you are already doing that.” (here Paul shows how familiar he is with the people of this church.) Then in the second verse he says, “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I may present you as a pure virgin to Him.” Paul likens our relationship, us being the church, to a marriage with Christ. Again in Romans 7:4 Paul is telling the Romans, “Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised.” NKJV. Very clearly, we are the Bride of Christ, a body of believers that have the most intimate relationship possible with our Lord.
Do we have to assemble to be the Bride of Christ? Well that begs the question; Why would a person who truly believes that Christ is their Saviour not want to have fellowship in the body of believers that Christ died for? If we jump from Romans to 1 John 3:14, we find the answer; “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers.” If we do, in fact, love our brothers, why would we not want to be with them as part of the Bride of Christ? An obvious sign of one who is moving away from Christ is their moving away from regular attendance to worship with those who they have professed to love. If we liken it to our own families, it becomes very clear. If certain members of your family drift away from family get-togethers and are absent for important family dates, they, by their actions, define how important, or unimportant their family has become to them.
Missing in too many of those who have drifted into the world and away from the church is the notion of who they were in the first place. The act of being saved, accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, is in essence, a marriage, a commitment to Him and also to fellow brothers and sisters who have this common relationship with Christ. We have, as a group, been ‘called out of the world’ to be together as one body and worship Him. It is a calling that we accepted and hopefully value.