Whenever I learn that someone is married, I wonder what their spouse is like. While it can be fun to try and picture them, I’m much more interested in what type of person they are. If the spouse I know is out-going and excitable, I wonder if their spouse is more laidback. Or if the spouse I know has to be right all the time, I wonder if their spouse has that same trait, or if they’re more willing to agree to disagree. People choose their partners for millions of reasons and often the match is a suitable one: they complement each other or balance each other.
I woke up this morning with one question in my mind, that I’m not sure I’ve thought of before. Is the church a complementary partner to God?
The New Testament is filled with examples that tell us that the church is the bride and Christ is the groom in this mysterious and beautiful life. He picked us—dysfunction, warts, and all—because he loves us. He is faithful to us. He is gracious to us. He is kind to us. But do we complement him well?
Now, I know that we are all imperfect human beings who will never be a perfect representation of a perfect God. Yet he has still called us and picked us when staying “single” probably would’ve been the less stressful option.
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3 (ESV)
Let’s break this down a little further. We have been chosen by God. He has welcomed us into his family with open arms and given us his name. He didn’t forcibly remove us from our previous life, but lovingly rescued us from sin and death. We weren’t rushed or manipulated into this life of faith, but were compelled by his goodness. And now we can live out the freedom he’s given us.
When we operate out of humility and gentleness, we look like Jesus who is merciful to those who have been beaten up by the world. When we are patient and loving, we look like the Father who is so long-suffering with us. And when we as the bride of Christ are united as one and filled with peace, we are reflecting the Holy Spirit to a world that is known for chaos and division.
I know that these verses are difficult ones to apply to our daily lives. But as I look around the world and the state of the church itself, I can’t help but wonder if we’ve given up too quickly on these principles. What if we were to come back to Christ—our first love—and allow our time with him to shape us into who he’s called us to be? What if instead of seeking to be right or better or perfect, we just tried to be a more clear representation of him to the world?
We have been called to an immensely precious calling—he’s chosen us as his bride and his unending affection has been set upon us—what if we lived like it?
What does “the bride of Christ” mean to you?
How do you practically live out the calling of God on your life?