Embracing Grace: The Bride

A 365 Day Devotional Journal

Day 7

Scripture: Luke 7; John 14:1-11; John 15:1-18; Ephesians 5:28-30; Song of Solomon

I have been bought with a price, so does that mean I now belong to God, that I am His property?  If we were under the Old Covenant, I would say “Yes, you are His property,” but we now are under the New Covenant of grace. Believers today like to speak in Christianese such things as “I have been bought with a price,” referring to the price Jesus paid for our salvation, or “I belong to God,” referring to our surrender to His Lordship over our lives. While statements such as these are true, per se, they do not communicate fully just how God thinks of us.

God calls us The Bride.

Copyright © 2010, Lora Shipley; used with permission.

Marriage in twenty-first century America is a much maligned, greatly undervalued, and despised covenant. It is laughed upon by many and viewed as archaic, a ritual that right-wing fundamentalists, evangelicals, and dominionists insist we must adhere to with our ever-weakening, outdated, hypocritical rules. Absolutes are passé. The Bible is viewed as fable. God is relegated to outmoded myth. If I am a woman, I am apt to say things like “Why should I submit to a man? He’s no better than me.” If I am a man, I am prone toward “Try the merchandise before you buy it. Always give yourself an exit strategy if it doesn’t work.”

We are the Me Generation.

The church as a whole reflects the same image as the world. This has been demonstrated statistically through much research. The world mocks the church and uses our sins to justify theirs.

Mine and yours.

“Oh no, not me,” you say. But if we truly are honest with ourselves, we will find areas where we have allowed the influence of the world to harden our hearts toward God and others. This proves all the more our need for a Savior.

In our house, we have a silly song we like to sing to make a point in the conversation, called “It’s all about me, Jesus” (to the tune “It’s all about You, Jesus.”)

See, that’s just it. Life isn’t just about me.

Our thinking is wrong, because we have bought into the lie that others are not as important as I am and that whatever I do does not affect anyone else but me.

Our perspective is myopic.

The nineteenth century poet, John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887), wrote one of the more famous versions of the poem, “The Blind Men and the Elephant”:

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!”

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, “Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ’tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!”

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a snake!”

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he;
“ ‘Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!”

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!?

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

Moral:

So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!1

Saxe gave salient points in the above poem but failed to mention that we do not have to remain blind. We can have our eyes opened. I led our youngest daughter in a prayer asking Jesus to come live in her when she was at the very young age of 2 years and 9 months. Immediately after praying, she exclaimed “He ope’d my eyes and made me see!”

Jesus said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father2 (John 14:9.)

Peter, while on trial before the rulers and elders and scribes, was filled with God’s Holy Spirit and said to them, in Act 4:12, 19b-20, 12“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved… 19…Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; 20for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”3

God calls us The Bride, the allusion being that the New Covenant with God is likened to a marriage covenant. Have you ever wondered why God views covenants so highly? It was through a covenant that God first dealt with man (Adam). Covenants are how God interacts with man throughout history, as recorded in the Bible, and each one was initiated by Him. He covenanted with men not once, not twice, but six times, Jesus being the last and final Covenant (of Grace.)4

Revelation, as given by John the Beloved, is written to The Bride of Christ. Song of Solomon, considered by some to be a literal wedding poem, expresses beautifully the ultimate fulfillment found in The Bride (the church) abandoning herself to the Bridegroom’s (Jesus’) love.

The lack of true love is why we see so much wrong in society today. It’s not that we don’t want love, but that our ability to give and receive love has somehow become broken. Our relationship with God is disabled, and only a revelation in our hearts of the love of God for us will transform us into the spotless Bride that He awaits with longing.

The break stems from a faulty belief system. If we do not truly believe we are worthy of love, we will show it by our behavior. What we believe shapes how we behave toward ourselves and others.

Choose to begin today by identifying and abandoning destructive thought patterns to which you cling. Ephesians 5:29-30 says “for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.”

Jesus, the Lover of your soul, beckons you to enter His chamber, His inner courts. He is able to fulfill your hunger for love like no other.

In the darkest reaches of our hearts, we all believe true love is worth pursuing.

Read: Luke 7; John 14:1-11; John 15:1-18; Ephesians 5:28-30; Song of Solomon. Journal your private thoughts.

Father God, teach me to love myself the way You love me. I know that when I walk in Your love, I will be able to love others as You commanded. I am the only Jesus some will ever see, so shine Your love through me that hardened hearts may come to experience freedom in Your presence. For Jesus’ sake and the kingdom’s, amen.

_____________________

1“The Blind Men and the Elephant,” based on a fable which was told in India many years ago http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~philclub/Elephant.htm.
 2Italics mine. Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org
3ibid.
4The six Covenants: 1. the covenant with Adam, 2. the covenant with Noah, 3. the covenant with Abraham, 4. the covenant with Moses, 5. the covenant with David, 6. the New Covenant. Some Bible scholars argue that God made nine covenants with man, but I agree with many that the “extra” ones, which all were with Moses, can be summarized into a continuation of God’s single covenant with Moses and the People of Israel at that time.

Copyright © 2011, Érin Elise

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2 Responses to Embracing Grace: The Bride

  1. Duchess of Zizendorf says:

    i think out of all the articles you’ve written, this one is my favorite!! it really ministered to me!