Summary: This message followed up one on the Biblical Bridal Paradigm, and reflected on the motivation of living and participating in ministry out of love.
(Opened with a homemade "YouTube" video to the Toby Mac hit, "Made to Love")
Last week we explored our love relationship with God. This idea of a “holy romance” through such long standing hymns of the faith as “And Can It Be” and “My Saviour’s Love” and “My Jesus I Love Thee.” This week, it is a bit more contemporary music, and truth from Toby Mac –
“I was made to love you, I was made to find you
I was made just for you, made to adore you
I was made to love, and be loved by you
You were here before me, You were waiting on me
And you said you’d keep me, never would you leave me
I was made to love and be loved by you.”
I’ll stop there before I embarrass my children any further. Let’s recap what we explored together last Sunday. We began by talking about paradigms: Frames of Reference. Patterns or templates for how we process things which color every aspect of our life: what we think, how we talk, how we interpret life events. Everything is colored by our paradigms. Our frames of reference. Our patterns of thinking and influence.
And we looked at how the Bible utilizes various paradigms to describe the Kingdom of God. Paradigms people in the body of Christ tend to operate out of –
- Fishing: “I will make you fishers of men.” A popular evangelistic paradigm.
- Agriculture: “Sowing the seed.” “Pruning the vine.” A discipleship paradigm.
- War: “We wrestle not with flesh and blood.” A spiritual warfare paradigm.
And then we explored a paradigm of not only who we are already in part, but especially, who we will clearly one day be presented as: the Bride of Christ. A “Bridal Paradigm.”
Revelation 19 says,
“Let us rejoice and exalt
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready.”
2 Corinthians 11, “I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.”
The prophet Isaiah, “For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name.” (Isaiah 54:5)
I even encouraged you to read the Song of Solomon this week from the frame of reference of the “Bridal Paradigm.” Reflecting on the poetry and writing of that book from the paradigm of Christ as the husband, and you. . .me. . .the body of Christ as the bride of Christ. Anybody take on that devotional experiment this week?
The “Bridal Paradigm.” A paradigm that draws a picture of God as one who enjoys us, who is filled with affection for us, who desires to embrace us. An intimate picture of our relationship with God. A way of looking at our walk with God that is covered in affection and love.
But as we explored this paradigm, we saw that it was not without its challenges.
There is. . .
A. A PRACTICAL CHALLENGE
Men and singles especially may struggle to relate to the role of a bride. Men tend to embrace more masculine paradigms. War paradigms. Agricultural paradigms. Men do not get real excited about embracing words and thoughts such as “intimacy”, “affection”, and “love.” But without the “Bridal Paradigm” people can go their entire life without seeing and understanding God’s deep, personal, passionate love for them. There is...
B. A PSYCHOLOGICAL CHALLENGE
In our minds. In our thinking. In our current paradigms and frames of reference, we see ourselves as unworthy of being the bride of Christ. We wonder why in the world He would want to be married to us. We are unable to see ourselves with the love that Christ has for us. There is even. . .
C. AN EXPERIENTIAL CHALLENGE
Simply put, we have not experienced in our lives the all out, reckless abandon love that Christ has for us. Nor have we loved others or God in that way ourselves. So it is difficult for us to picture a God that would love us in a “no holds barred” manner.
And yet, despite some very real challenges, I firmly believe that we are living in a day when we desperately need this paradigm in our lives. We need this frame of reference as a part of our walk with God. And we looked at some reasons why. For example. . .
1. IN ITS PUREST FORM, IT IS THE PLACE OF GREATEST LOVE AND INTIMACY
Only in the “Bridal Paradigm.” Only in our roles as the bride of Christ can we experience the love and intimacy that we all long for in our lives. All the limitations and shortcomings of the “human paradigm” of love are gone. All the mistakes and failures of the earthly “marriage paradigm” become a distant memory. In the greatness of this frame of reference of the love of God, the very same love the Father has for the Son, the Son has for us, His bride.