The Eternal Bride
My daughter recently married her true love. Her wedding was wonderful; elegant and meaningful, the ceremony was said to be the best some guests had ever experienced. Even so, it was eclipsed by the reception, which was a cavalcade of brilliantly dressed Mexican dancers, swirling guests doing the hora and included a group of Jewish bottle dancers, bursting onto the scene like wandering cast members from Fiddler On The Roof.
And, yet, the most wonderful part of the entire event came at its end, when the bride and groom danced off the floor in a cloud of mist, to the tune of New York, New York; leaving the reception to start a new life together.
The end of the wedding was the beginning of their marriage. The climax of their celebration was the first moments of endless days of hard work, adventure, tribulation, fulfillment, sorrow and joy. As the couple stepped off the dance floor, they stepped into the daily routine of life, the countless common moments that would form the glue of their marriage, the days of their life and the basis for all else that would befall them.
But what if…
my daughter had wanted to stay at the wedding; dancing away night after night; the center of everyone’s attention? What if she refused to follow her husband home to begin the common tasks of everyday life? What if she were unwilling to exchange her wedding gown for an apron, or the dance floor for her kitchen floor? To play and drink champagne instead of washing clothes, cleaning the bathrooms and cooking meals? Always being the bride and never being the wife? Would it be better to celebrate forever their new life or to actually live it?
Many in the modern church seem to have fallen under the intoxication of their first dance with Jesus. Wanting no more responsibility than to look beautiful and giggle on about how happy Christ is making them, these eternal brides never move out of the wedding and into the marriage.
They do not want to trade the admiration of their church friends for the hatred of the world, the thrilling easy answers to prayer for the scourging of God. They would much rather pick up their Bible than pick up their cross, choosing to live within the social busyness of church life instead of venturing outside of the camp to face God alone.
Hiding from the world, they hide from the temptations that awaited Jesus in the wilderness. For many in today’s church, the danger, adventure and courage of abiding in Christ is exchanged for safety, certainty and meekness, all conveniently found within the walls of the church.
Like human marriage, divine marriage is hard work. There is much cleaning to do, much patience, much sorrow and much sacrifice. But without patience, sorrow and sacrifice there can be no true love, joy or hope. An eternal wedding is no wedding at all because it can never bear fruit. In the end, when time has run its course, and the music ends, it is good for nothing, but to gather its barren branches and burn them in the fire; for in the joy of self-delight lies the horror of an everlasting loneliness.