In the Bible Jesus loved (the Old Testament), the chosen people of God were often described as His beloved bride. Their relationship became quite rocky due to her serial unfaithfulness. This inspired many prophetic calls for repentance and a remnant remained. God’s steadfast love for her endured.
In the New Testament, the church becomes the bride of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote of Jesus and His church in synonymous terms with husband and wife (Ephesians 5:22-33). The book of Revelation rejoices over the marriage of the Lamb (Jesus) with His bride who is clothed in “the righteous acts of the saints.” (Revelation 19:7-8). Speaking of this bride, John relates that “they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.” (21:3). The Bible ends with an invitation from the Spirit and the bride saying to everyone who hears, “Come” (22:17). Indeed, offering God’s gracious invitation to the thirsty, the needy and the lost has always been the mission of Jesus’ church, His glorious bride.
Sadly, a rising crusade of professed Christians today are calling for a divorce. They seek this divorce in Jesus’ name, presuming that His followers can cut off His church and still have Jesus. Others want the divorce presuming that the church is theirs and they can play church without Jesus. Sorry, but Jesus stands with his faithful bride, now and forever.
Slipping and sliding toward a divorce between Jesus and His bride is facilitated in two unwise ways:
- When a so-called “church” releases her grip on Jesus to become merely a social club or entertainment center that ignores the call to repent and shuns the message of the cross, she is slipping and sliding on a steep slope leading to the ultimate divorce.
- When professed “Christians” claim to follow Jesus while cutting themselves off from Jesus’ bride, individually or as a group rebellion, they are already living as if the divorce has occurred. People who bash Jesus’ church with cheap stereotypes and self-righteous smears gain popularity quickly in America today—even among idealistic “Christians.” Many claim to do this to save Christians from the church. Don’t follow such people.
The faithful bride of Christ is called out in this world to love God and others just as Jesus did on His way to the cross. Abandoning this narrow path means divorcing yourself from Him. Jesus’ church has a table where the Lord’s Supper serves as a proclamation of His death until He comes (1 Corinthians 11:26). She also has a pulpit where God’s word is faithfully proclaimed. Actually, the table, the pulpit or any other furniture we use (and the building itself) are not the point. Jesus is.
So, some want the church to leave Jesus because they prefer popularity and self-promotion to service and sacrifice. Others want Jesus to leave the church because they confuse church with utopia. They prefer their ideal of Jesus over against the real flesh and blood people who make up His imperfect church—the same church Jesus died for (Ephesians 5:25). Such notions are folly and will end in divorce.
Let’s stop clamoring for an end to a marriage made in heaven. If you get nothing else from the book of Revelation, get this: the marriage of the Lamb and His bride will be standing in the end. You can cut yourself off from Jesus or His church or both, but that marriage will last, with or without you. Let it be with you!