Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Beauty and Radiance Of The Bride Is Not Found In Her Many Walls But In Her Freedom

Regardless of how we may see her and what we may do to her, the Church remains the radiant Bride of Christ. We are that Bride, you and me. It is impossible for us to deny her, reject her, walk away from her and still be part of her because to reject her is to reject Jesus. This radiant Bride is also the Body of Christ and this Body is also God's nation. Being part of her we have become a people, a nation where there was no nation. We should have the same mentality of the Jews before the UN gave them some land back. They were a nation without any territory, a people united by a common faith and a common history. That is how we should see ourselves.

We have all heard that the Church is not a building because we are that building yet we anchor ourselves to a building or location of worship. We imprison ourselves there, feeling free only in that place, behaving one way there and another outside of those walls. It becomes a place of strength and source of joy whereas Jesus desires to be those for us. When he was challenged on the location of proper worship Jesus' answer revealed what we are suppose to be today:

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24)

An incredible profound insight and prophetic statement that most of us glaze over, denying it's significance. Jesus has freed us from such confines for worship in the same way that we, as a nation of people, have been freed from the confines of a territory. Nothing holds us in, we have no border, no building, no religious ceremonies, no system. We are free to worship 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in spirit and truth, as the Body of Christ, as the radiant Bride and we are beautiful.

The psalmist of Psalm 48 bragged about the beauty of the great temple of Zion:

Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise, 
   in the city of our God, his holy mountain. 
It is beautiful in its loftiness, 
   the joy of the whole earth. 
Like the utmost heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion, 
   the city of the Great King. 
God is in her citadels; 
   he has shown himself to be her fortress. (Psalm 48:1-3)

You can feel his great love for this sacred place as he gushes with pride:

Walk about Zion, go around her, 
   count her towers, 

consider well her ramparts, 
   view her citadels, 
   that you may tell of them to the next generation. (Psalm 48:12-13)

Yet, it was destroyed, not once but twice. It was destroyed, but the nation was not. They nation was scattered throughout the world for a very long time and many of the people were blessed and prospered as they continued as a nation that worshiped God. From this we must be able to see God's heart in the matter. Territories and buildings are not what is important but the heart of his people is what matters most:

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

"They are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks." It is not the size of the walls or the riches of the temple and city that made her great but instead the love and dedication of the people:

Within your temple, O God, 
   we meditate on your unfailing love. 
Like your name, O God, 
   your praise reaches to the ends of the earth; 
   your right hand is filled with righteousness. 
Mount Zion rejoices, 
   the villages of Judah are glad 
   because of your judgments. (Psalm 48:9-11)

The greatness of the Church is not her many buildings or the beauty of them, it is not her great earthly riches or her many activities, it is not her great vision and plans for expansion, The greatness, the beauty, the radiance of the Church, of the Bride is her love and dedication to the Groom, our Lord Jesus Christ. As we gather to worship the Lord as his people, his great nation, we do not worship because of some obligation; we do it in response to his great love for us. We gather as a people longing to worship in the overflow of our grateful hearts. We don't have time to criticize the rest of the Body, to find fault with other members, to tear down because we are too busy building each other up in love as we concentrate on the greatest activity of the Church, the worship of the Groom.

We are the Body and the world will know it by our loving actions and words for one another. We are the Bride and the world will know it by our love for the Groom. We are the Church and the world will know it by our worship.

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