The image is stuck in my mind.
” The Marriage of the Lamb has come;
his Wife has made herself ready.
She was given a bridal gown
of bright and shining linen.
The linen is the righteousness of the saints. ” – The Message; Revelation 19:7-8
“You have here a description of the bride, how she appeared; not in the gay and gaudy dress of the mother of harlots, but in fine linen, clean and white, which is the righteousness of saints; in the robes of Christ’s righteousness, both imputed for justification and imparted for sanctification–the stola, the white robe of absolution, adoption, and enfranchisement, and the white robe of purity and universal holiness. She had washed her robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; and these her nuptial ornaments she did not purchase by any price of her own, but received them as the gift and grant of her blessed Lord.” – “Matthew Henry’s Commentary
Familiar images? We as the Church are the bride of Christ, clothed in His righteousness, preparing for His return. Such imagery is encouraging and humbling. But, does this picture stir the same sentiment?
” I am a whore I do confess
But I put you on just like a wedding dress
and I run down the aisle
and I run down the aisle
I’m a prodigal with no way home
but I put you on just like a ring of gold
and I run down the aisle to you”‘ – Derek Webb, Wedding Dress
The Church is a whore. I am a whore. We’re all whores. Putting on Christ and running down the aisle. Running away from sin, from other affairs, running in desperation toward the bridegroom. Christ gifted us this attire, and we fall under His authority and cloak ourselves in His righteousness. Still we’ll always be whores clothed in garments that we don’t deserve to wear. Aware of this and anticipating our reunion with our Beloved,we should be motivated to continue to purify our lives as we deepen our relationship with Christ.
The imagery is heart -wrenchingly beautiful. Yet, this imagery is mind-numbingly horrifying…
“If we desire people to be happily married to Jesus as his loving bride, it makes sense to let them go out on a few dates with him instead of just putting a shotgun to their heads and asking them to hurry up, put on a white dress, and try to look happy for the photos.” – Mark Driscoll, Radical Reformission
Is it possible that we can be encouraging our brothers and sisters in church to jump into a relationship too quickly? Encouraging others to jump into a covenant that they neither understand nor can fulfill. Shotgun weddings. Quick come to the altar, accept Jesus into your heart. Say a sinner’s prayer, take the vow.
Too often, there is no courting, no wooing, no love. The vow is empty. It is insincere. It is a shotgun wedding. Maybe not in the sense of a barrel to the head, but a shot was definitely fired. The barrel is still smoking, and the bride has little recollection of what happened. Some time later, the bride either falls deeply in love with her husband and looks back on the day of the vow… wishing her words meant more. Or, perhaps, she looks back and remembers the pressure and the smoking barrel, and despises the day and searches for options for divorce.
“if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9). The key word in this verse commonly referenced in sinner’s prayer theology is AND. The confession of the mouth must accompany a transforming of the heart.
Evangelism details both the romance and the wedding. How do you get a whore to love Love himself (1 John 4:8), Love who demands no other gods before Him (Exodus 20:3) , Love that requires that you love everything else less (luke 14:26), Love that requires your heart, soul, mind and strength (Luke 10:27), Love that is fueled by passion and a jealous eye (Exodus 20:5)…. ? If you want someone to love Christ, introduce them to who He is and why you love Him. Step back and allow Him to woo them, pray for them, share your faith and life with them, occasionally check in to see if they have had a DTR recently. Be supportive, encouraging, and even push the relationship…. but please don’t force a vow too early.
Don’t push a wedding unless a bride is willing to wear the dress…
We cannot clothe one another in Christ, we can only clothe ourselves and we can’t even do that alone. We must submit to Him daily and ask Him to cloak us in His righteousness… and until we are able to wear the dress, we are unable to walk down the aisle and enter into the blood covenant with the Bridegroom.