Summary: Part 4 in series The Shape of Things to Come. Dave explains Wildwind’s membership commitments, why church membership is important, and asks people to consider membership in the church.
The Shape of Things to Come, prt. 4
Wildwind Community Church
September 27, 2008
It has been a long time, but after much preparation, a lot of money spent, and with more than a little bit of anxiety, the wedding day has finally come. The bride looks beautiful, having carefully selected every single detail for the day at hand. More money and time has been spent picking over the wedding dress than practically any other detail of the service, and the bride wears it with that confidence. The groom has managed to show up to the church at the right time and is wearing a tuxedo but forgot to polish his shoes.
The bride is surrounded by her friends whom she has carefully chosen. She has surrounded herself with others who are almost as invested in this day as the she is. They care as much as she does about every detail. They know one day they will get married and they are all living vicariously through her. The groom’s buddies can’t wait to dance in their underwear at the reception.
The bride will stand at the back of the sanctuary surrounded by her attentive court. She has put so much time and effort into this day and is ready to enjoy every single moment as it comes. First the flowergirl and ringbearer in their awesome cuteness. Then the bridesmaids, one after the other, exactly as planned and practiced. The groom and his buddies are already up front waiting because the pastor finally just had to say, “Dudes, quick fly check and let’s go.”
After the ceremony, bride and groom will go to their reception. The bride looks forward to cutting the cake and maybe a playful thrust into her groom’s face. The groom wonders if he’s going to get to remove the garter belt with his teeth. The bride dances with her daddy and cries and thinks about how her name has just changed. She wonders if the honey ham is pleasing to her guests. The groom thinks about the honeymoon. Then after he has thought about the honeymoon, he changes gears and thinks about the honeymoon some more. Then he enjoys thinking about the honeymoon for a while. The reception was fun for a while (while he was removing the garter belt with his teeth), but seriously, isn’t it time they left for the honeymoon? He’s having fun, but he starts looking at his watch.
The happy bride and groom have just arrived at the hotel to begin their honeymoon. She looks around the place and observes that everything is perfect, every detail in its place. A bucket filled with ice and champagne next to the Jacuzzi. Little chocolate mints on the bed. A hotel room refreshingly free from even a hint of a smoke smell. Tiny little shampoo bottles on the bathroom counter.
The groom has also noticed the bed, but wonders what those stupid mints are doing there, since he’s just thinking about…. And that, my friends, is where this tale ends, for obvious reasons.
Revelation 19:7-8 (NIV)
7 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.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)
There’s gonna be a wedding one day. The groom will be Jesus Christ and he won’t be a whole lot like the groom in the story I just told. He’ll be the perfect groom, one who has waited for his bride for thousands of years. This groom isn’t just going to show up for the service. In fact, unlike brides who prepare the wedding and tell the groom when to show up, this groom has been actively preparing his bride for a very, very long time.
Ephesians 5:25-27 (MSG)
25 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting.
26 Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her,
27 dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness.
Who will the bride be? If you are a Christ-follower, the bride will be you. Not just you, but everyone who has ever loved and followed Jesus throughout all time. The church is the bride of Christ. One day the groom is coming back for his bride. When the groom gets back here, what kind of shape will the bride be in?
As a pastor, I spend countless hours asking this question. Because my concern is that Jesus will return for his bride, only to find he doesn’t have a bride, but just a girlfriend. Jesus is coming back for his bride, not for his girlfriend.