The longer I walk with Christ the more fully I realize that I don’t have my act together! Truth is, we’ve all got issues… big issues (I’m saying this as a “Preacher” at Pinedale!) The depth of my sinful nature and the work God must do to fix it on an ongoing basis is immense. I can’t deny that Christ has worked in my life and I know I’m better off. Jesus has bettered my marriage, my children, my community, and my life! But God is still perfecting His image in me – thankfully, it is His ongoing work and not mine. I’m groaning often though, along with the rest of this fallen creation.
Paul, as he often does, mixes a couple of paradigms together to communicate some interesting truths about the Body of Christ; in Ephesians 5 he adds a new dimension to the picture. Not only is the Church the Body of Christ, it is also His Bride! Read Ephesians 5:21-33 below:
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “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. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Describe the ongoing work of Christ in His Body – His Bride, outlined by Paul in this passage:
It is inconceivable to imagine an earthly engagement and marriage ceremony where the Groom spends months and possibly years raising up for Himself a “pure” Bride. All metaphors have their limits. But why do you think Christ is putting so much energy into purifying each and every member of His Body, the Church, to present for Himself a pure and spotless Bride?
Read this description of heaven and consider why Christ is working so hard to purify His Bride.
“I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life”
(Revelation 21:22-27, 22:17).
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.