Married to God
James C. Denison
This is the season for weddings. I’ve performed three in the last three weeks, with more to come. Fortunately, each of the grooms I’ve married knew that he was marrying over his head, as I did. Not all husbands are this wise.
For instance, a friend sent me this unfortunate story: “When our lawn mower broke and wouldn’t run, my wife kept hinting to me that I should get it fixed. But somehow I always had something else to take care of first–the truck, the car, fishing, always something more important to me.
“Finally she thought of a clever way to make her point. When I arrived home one day, I found her seated in the tall grass, busily snipping away with a tiny pair of sewing scissors. I watched silently for a short time and then went into the house.
“I was gone only a few minutes. When I came out again I handed her a toothbrush. ‘When you finish cutting the grass,’ I said, ‘you might as well sweep the sidewalk.’
“The doctors say I will walk again, but I will always have a limp.” As he should.
This summer we’ve surveyed a number of images and metaphors for the church. We’ve learned that we are his “saints,” called out to belong to him. We are his new creation, the temple of his Holy Spirit, branches on his vine, his “building.” Today we learn that we are his bride and he is our Groom. We learn that being ready for our wedding in eternity is the best way to live today. And we learn why.
For those days when you wonder if your life matters much, whether anyone really knows or cares about you, whether you’re going anywhere significant or your days are worthwhile, remember this fact: you are the Bride of Christ. Today it is my privilege to show you why that fact is our hope.
Know that you belong to Christ
Have you ever wondered why Catholic nuns do not marry? According to official Church teaching, they are married–to Christ. We Baptists may not have known that about nuns. And we may not know that we have joined them–we are married to Jesus as well. We are already the bride of Christ. Our marriage has already been arranged.
In first-century Judaism, marriages were always arranged. Sometimes between a man and his prospective wife’s family, sometimes between parents of children. Then the time would come when the couple would enter into a formal engagement. This would last for a year. They were considered to be married in every way except physically. She still lived with her family, and he still lived in his home. If he were to die during that year, she would be considered a widow, and would in fact be called “the virgin who is a widow.”
Then would come the day of their wedding, when they would consummate their marriage and live together for the rest of their lives.
You and I are in the formal engagement period with Jesus. The moment you asked him to become your Lord and Savior, you became his “bride.” The New Testament consistently refers to Jesus as the “Bridegroom” (John 3:29; Matthew 9:15). Paul told the Corinthians, “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him” (2 Corinthians 11:2). You and I are engaged to be married to Jesus. We can belong to no one else. We are completely his. And soon our wedding day will come.
Rejoice that he is preparing your eternal mansion
When it does, everything we have done to be ready will be worth its cost and more. We will move into a new home with our Bridegroom: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea” (v. 1).
No more of this fallen, decayed, corrupted planet. No hurricanes or earthquakes or cancer or AIDS. No more disease or disaster. Not even any “sea,” that which had separated John on Patmos from his beloved church in Ephesus. We move out of the rundown old shack where we live today into a mansion with streets of gold and gates of pearl.
Our Groom has a “mansion” he has been building for us in glory. He is a master carpenter. We cannot begin to imagine what our home will be like, for “no eye as seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
When this happens, we will be united with our Groom for all time: “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (v. 3). When we are with him, we will have all that our hearts yearn for today: “In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11, KJV).
We will receive “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4).
We will “eat at the feast in the kingdom of God” (Luke 14:15).
We’ll have perfect understanding there: “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
We will be in “paradise” (Luke 23:43), the walled garden of the king. The good comes, the bad is gone: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (v. 4).
Not a single evidence of our fallen world will be left. Not a single day spent in pain or grief, guilt or loss. All of that is gone. The life we had before is no more. We are now married to God, and will live with him in his mansion for all time.