I don’t remember much about my wedding day. People warned me that this would happen…that it would all be a blur. And they were correct. Apparently I had a bridezilla meltdown that involved duct tape, but I have no recollection of this whatsoever. I remember my sweet dad walking me down the aisle. I remember my handsome groom waiting for me at the altar. I remember Bradley surprising me with a fully orchestrated musical composition that he had written for me for our wedding day. And I remember my beloved Pastor Rick Ferguson crying before he pronounced us “man and wife,” as he told Bradley through tears to “take care of our girl.” (And yes, I was just a girl. A 19-year-old girl to be exact.)
You’ve never met anyone who was less concerned about her wedding than me. I had never dreamed about my wedding. I didn’t have a grand vision for what I wanted it to be. I literally did not care about flowers, menu, decorations, etc. I bought the first dress I tried on. Planning my wedding was a chore. I didn’t care about the ceremony. I only cared about being married to Bradley Knight. That was the prize for me. We will celebrate our 20th anniversary in June. Saying “yes” to him was the best decision of my life. Being married to Bradley is still my prize.
Jesus is coming back soon. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, I encourage you to read the book of Revelation in the Bible. It tends to scare a lot of people, but it shouldn’t. Ultimately, it’s a love story about a Groom wooing and redeeming His Bride. It’s a narrative of victory, celebration, and everlasting joy. It’s foretelling an eternal party.
Revelation also sets the scene for what our world will look like in the last days, before Christ’s return. And Friend…we’re just about there. If you’ve been remotely paying attention to the news or social media, you know that Russia, China, and North Korea are making big moves that are devastating millions of people and demolishing nations. As horrible as this is, this should not shock any of us who read our Bibles. These things must happen to set the stage for Jesus’s triumphant return.
The Bible tells us that when Jesus comes back for His Bride, she will be radiant and beautiful.
“Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. He did this to present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless…This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:25-27, 32)
“Let us be glad, rejoice, and give him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has prepared herself.” (Revelation 19:7)
The Church of the living God is the Bride of Christ. The Church is not a steepled, stain-glassed building you visit on Sunday mornings. It’s not a club to which you belong. The Church is, in fact, you and me. We are the Church. We are the Bride of Christ. And we are to be ready for our Groom’s soon return. We are to be cleansed with the washing of water by the Word of God. We are to be presented to Christ in splendor on that glorious day. We are to be spotless, pure, holy, and blameless.
How in the world are we – mere humans – supposed to accomplish this? It’s quite the conundrum.
There has been a decades-long pandemic within modern-day Christianity. I’m going to call it the Perception of Perfection. We show up at our steepled buildings week-in and week-out, dressed in our Sunday best, with smiles plastered on our faces, and we pretend that we’re great and everything’s great. We don’t share our problems with one another…because we don’t have any! (Except we all do.) We don’t share our burdens with one another…because we don’t have any! (Except we’re all buckling under their weight.) We’re not vulnerable about any of our issues…because we don’t have any! We are victors, not victims. We are the head and not the tail. We are blessed to be a blessing. God is good all the time, and all the time God is good. So how could we possibly ever be anything but great?
Here’s the truth: God is good all the time. And also I’m a total mess. I’m hopelessly flawed. I’m broken. I’m empty. I’m helpless. I wake up every day in total need of a Savior. I cannot do anything on my own. In the natural, I don’t resemble anything like the spotless, pure, and holy Bride that I’m called to be.
Or maybe I look exactly like the Bride that Christ longs to redeem.
Let’s take a look at Ruth in the Old Testament. Not only was she a widow, but she was a Moabite in the land of Israel. She was a half-breed. A foreigner. A single woman trying to take care of another single woman, her mother-in-law Naomi. And she was starving. This was a recipe for devastation. Ruth was the lowest of the lowly. She was broken, empty, helpless, needy.
In order to feed herself and her mother-in-law, Ruth found a field and gathered fallen grain left behind by day laborers. She was literally living on crumbs. And she caught the eye of the owner of the field…a man by the name of Boaz. He called her to him and inquired after her well-being, promising to provide safety and daily provision for both her and Naomi. Ruth’s response to Boaz’s generosity was to fall facedown before him in thanksgiving. (See Ruth 2:10)
This was who Boaz chose to marry. A woman so broken, so empty, so needy, so aware of her helplessness. A woman who made herself prostrate before her redeemer. Ruth was a pure and spotless bride. Not because of her perfection, but because of her posture.
This is a beautiful picture of the Bride that Christ will soon be returning for. This is who we’re supposed to be. Utterly aware of our helplessness, desperately longing for our Redeemer. In these last days, we are called to be blameless, pure, without blemish. But hear me, Friend: Our purity will not be found in our perfection. Our purity will be found in our posture.
We must be willing to embrace our emptiness. Like the apostle Paul, we need to learn how to boast in our weaknesses so that Christ’s power may reside in us. For when we are weak, then we are strong. (See 2 Corinthians 12:9-10) We don’t boast in our weaknesses in today’s Evangelical world. We don’t brag about our neediness. This practice doesn’t align with the Church’s Perception of Perfection. But it totally aligns with scripture.
The quickest way to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit is to present ourselves as empty, needy vessels to Him. God loves filling empty things in order to display His glory. And this world desperately needs to see His glory.
I want to be a pure and spotless Bride, ready for my Savior. I want my small corner of the Church to be blameless and holy when my Redeemer comes for me. And I don’t have to be perfect to be pure. I merely have to be prostrate, facedown before the One who longs to rescue me and call me His own. For all eternity.
Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus.