The Bride of Christ
“You [are like] unfaithful wives [having illicit love affairs with the world and breaking your marriage vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world's friend is being God's enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God.” - James 4:4
Covered in mud, chasing after every enticing male that comes near her. Not a very attractive portrait for a bride-to-be. But I fear this is exactly what is happening to the Bride of Christ. In Scripture we see that we are to make ourselves ready for our Groom (Rev. 19:7). This preparation is not referring to our salvation, but rather our examining ourselves and our lives for anything that would displease the Lord or corrupt our relationship with Him. We also need to be careful not to involve ourselves in anything that would give ground to the devil. While that might sound obvious, putting it into practice can be a bit tricky. How does this look in our everyday lives?
Some things are indeed obvious and easy to avoid - horoscopes, tarot cards, etc. Others, however, may seem vague or insignificant and can pose serious dangers to the child of God. How can a follower of the Messiah know what he or she should or shouldn't be doing or saying or watching?
I believe that one cause for the sullied condition of the church at large is a serious lack of knowledge of the Word of God. Along with that lack of knowledge comes a desire for the familiar things of this world, the “fun” things that didn't seem bad before we became a Christian and now that we are a Christian we can successfully rationalize away any doubts about our activities. We are, after all, rational, educated human beings. Another stumbling block we face is our mindset and world view.
In the western world, most of us have been conditioned from birth to blindly accept a number of premises. The question of whether or not they are correct never crosses our minds because things simply are the way they are. Let's look at a few of these “givens” (in no particular order) and whether or not they should prevail after a person accepts Yeshua as their Messiah.
One accepted premise is that people (including our children) are free to choose to do as they wish with regards to religious preference and that we should keep our noses out of it. While this sounds correct, nothing could be further from the truth. No, we shouldn't strong-arm people or coerce them into believing something. But we should share with them the love, grace and mercy God has shown to us through His Son that they might be brought to a saving knowledge of the Messiah and be spared eternal separation from God. With regards to our children, Scriptures command parents to “Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) This is not an option. We are not to suggest to our children that it would be nice if they believed in God but go ahead and do what you want anyway. We must live our lives in such a way that our relationship with God through Yeshua is as natural as our breathing, so our children will see it as normal (which it should be). This will give them a good foundation for their walk with the Lord.
It is also interesting to note that in the Old Testament there never seemed to be a question as to whether or not Isaac, Jacob, or any of their offspring would follow God. It was a foregone conclusion that they would indeed continue in a relationship with the God of the universe as their fathers did before them and carry on the blessings God pronounced over them. It is only in our me-centered society that we feel we are imposing upon our children when it comes to nurturing their relationship with God.
Another way we dirty ourselves in the eyes of our Bridegroom is by the lack of interest, on our part, to have and pursue an intimate relationship with Him. Yeshua is to be our One and Only. He is to be the One who satisfies us in every area of our lives. When we turn to anything or anyone else to meet the needs that the Lord is meant to fulfill, we are in adultery. Whether we look to a substance, a person or ourselves, we are removing the Lord from the throne of our heart and breaking the heart of the One who died for us.
In all we do, we must ask ourselves who or what is being glorified. If the answer is anything other than the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we must examine the situation and our motives.
In every situation and in every area of our lives we must have one standard - the Word of God. We must never lower our standard to that of the world, wallowing in the mud to reach it. Our Bridegroom is coming. Let us, each one, make ourselves ready for His soon return!