So, after 22-and-a-half years of marriage to an incredible woman and friend, I may finally be starting to get it. She is a treasure, but, truth be told, I don’t always treat her that way. I do, of course, in principle see her that way, but, in practice, when it’s about dishes and diapers and dandelions, well, all those sentimental realities are not always on the foremost part of my manly frontal lobe.
I’m just being honest. But with nearly two decades of practice under my belt, I’m fully embracing the fact that this is more about seeing her beauty in the simple and everyday things than waiting for that rare date night when we can get dressed up and go out on the town. Those highlight-reel nights—when the moon hits your eye—are a gift, but it’s not really what it means to love the bride God blessed me with.
In fact, if I don’t seek her best when she’s down, don’t embrace her when she’s got bed-head, don’t listen to her heart when she needs to ramble her way through the layered emotions of a day from parental Hades, and if I don’t welcome the privilege to sit and be agenda-less in her presence—if I can’t love like this, then there is nothing that will rescue us. Not even the best date night.
I’m maturing in the knowledge that loving my bride is very different than loving my idea of my bride.
Do you love the bride of Christ or just your idea of her?
The New Testament closes with the Apostle John, imprisoned on the Mediterranean island of Patmos for his commitment to the Word of the Lord, hearing an invitation. “ ‘Come,’ says the angel. ‘I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb’ ” (Revelation 21:9). What he sees is a city, and she’s remarkable. In the New Testament, the bride is the church—the populace of the redeemed—and Jesus is crazy about all who respond to his proposal!
We all know that the church we experience is often far from glimmering with jasper, emerald and amethyst. We can get lost in her issues and the accumulative effects of a string of bad days or years. Nonetheless, she is the bride, and as a believer she is your identity, your eternal home. The church, this jagged bunch in need of polishing, is meant to be a source of rich healing for the nations. However, the bride can only fulfill this heavenly vision to the extent that she receives the love of the bridegroom, loves herself for the bridegroom’s sake, and longs for him above all else. Jesus loves his bride—to the point of death—and the bride, recognizing what she’s found, longs for and invites others to him: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come. . . .’ ” (Revelation 22:17).
Now we return to this: Do you love the bride or just your idea of her? And, do you love the bridegroom and what he sees we can be? Are you starting to get it?
Phil Wagler (firstname.lastname@example.org) is privileged to visit the church in her many expressions, and they’re all beautiful and besmirched and still loved by the bridegroom.