The day was amazing! The wind swept lightly over a golden Alberta wheat field that was the backdrop to our youngest daughter’s wedding this past September. Friends and family from all over the world (literally) had gathered to celebrate this moment with Emily and Philip. I linked her arm in mine as we walked toward her groom. Emily was radiant, her beauty was breathtaking and when her eyes met Philip’s she was filled with confidence, joy, and glowing love. His eyes got wider as she got closer; you could almost see his heart pounding in his chest. He was awed by her beauty and transfixed by her splendor. I released her into his care with a sense of peace and excitement. Philip’s love for my daughter was evident and his commitment to cherish and protect her was a promise I knew he was going to keep.
In the book of Ephesians, Paul describes the relationship of marriage by using the metaphor of the love that Jesus has for His bride, the Church. He writes, “Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church–a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness” (Ephesians 5:25-27 MSG).
As I pondered the glorious scenery of my daughter’s marriage, I was caught by the question, “Do I love the bride, the Church, like Christ does?” Too often I hear the comment, “I love Jesus, but I dislike the church!” Many are turning their back on the church because of the failures they have seen or experienced. Churches sometimes split; churches can be cliquish; churches can lack authenticity, get busy with the wrong things, overlook single people, forget about widows and orphans, and churches can lose sight of the Gospel. I’ll admit, sometimes I’m not too happy with what the church does. But I still love the Church, imperfections and all. Why? Because Jesus does! It is His bride. Jesus gave His life for her, and Jesus is passionate and persistent to present to Himself the Church in all her glory! This is what Jesus desires us to be and to pursue.
As I stood in front of Emily and Philip, listening to their vows, I was caught by the powerful words of the groom when he promised,
“In the presence of God and everyone here today, I vow to seek God first in everything that we do, to always put you first, to always pursue you, to encourage and push you, to comfort and hold you, to be your safe space, to laugh lots with you and to cry lots with you, to honour you, to be loyal and faithful to you, to love you unconditionally, to be your biggest cheerleader and your biggest fan, to walk beside you and to always be there for you.”
I wonder how different our churches would be if we had the same commitment and passion toward our fellow believers. Perhaps this weekend as you enter your church or consider whether to go to church at all, you will pause for a moment and see the bride in all of her beauty, loved by her groom and radiant with God’s glory—then take a deep breath and remember—the bride is you!Download the PDF’s: English | French | Chinese
Dave Hearn is the President of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada. He has held C&MA leadership positions at local church and District levels. He served as District Superintendent for the Canadian Pacific District from 2005 to July 2012. He loves spending time with his family, and he’s passionate about living on mission fearlessly.