We are meditating on the topic of eternity, and what God has prepared for those who love Him.
Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, wanders over the hillsides seeking to find those conscious of being distant from His flock (Luke 15:4). He knows and calls His people by name. Over a long period of time, He has gone to great lengths to show humankind our need of a Savior from sin. God's plan called for the most loving thing anyone could ever do for those He loved. He died as a substitute taking their penalty upon Himself to set them free from sin. This act of love expressed the most powerful thing in the universe—the power of love, agapé love. This kind of love is self-sacrificing and creates a love response from those who receive such grace. God has sent His Son into the world to win and woo His bride to Himself, especially those who are far away from Him and wandering near wolves.
To show us just how special we are to God, Paul the apostle wrote to remind us that we are being prepared for a wedding with Christ Himself:
I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him (2 Corinthians 11:2).
God wants us home and in a marriage covenant with His Son, the Lord Jesus. A wedding ceremony between a man and woman on earth is a picture of what God in Christ has done for His Church, the people called into a marriage relationship with Jesus. Paul the Apostle saw himself as one who prepares the bride of Christ so that she may be pure and spotless for her wedding. No matter what you have done and no matter where you have been, the Bridegroom can make you clean or has made you clean, pure and spotless. If you are a Christian, you are clothed with a robe of purity and righteousness that Christ bought for you at Calvary's cross. He is calling for His bride to come home. Paul is not alone in using this analogy of a marriage relationship. The prophet Isaiah, speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit, wrote:
As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you (Isaiah 62:5).
Think about a wedding ceremony between a man and a woman, what traditions come to mind that perhaps symbolize and represent the relationship between God and His Church? In a wedding ceremony, one of the first things that speak of this holy union is that of the bride leaving her father and mother and the new couple becoming one with her betrothed. Paul, the apostle, writes in another letter about becoming one with Christ when he writes about marriage:
For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery -- but I am talking about Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:31-32).
Paul is speaking on two levels, about a man and his wife's relationship but also about the heavenly union between Christ and His bride, the Church. How beautiful it is for our heavenly Bridegroom to call us into union with Himself. How loved we are! Keith Thomas
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