Monday, July 4, 2016

The Battle of the Brides


After an emotionally draining day, my husband took me to the lake...paddled me around the peaceful waters...stuck a yellow water lily in my hair and  cherished me. He was tired and drained too...and yet he loved me.
Your spouse is supposed to be your other half. They are supposed to be part of you, spiritually united with your soul and body through the marriage covenant. That's pretty close. That's permanently, daily, in spirit and flesh, connected and dependent. Seems like a pretty good reason to take good care of your spouse, for selfish or unselfish reasons. A man's bride is not just his bride on his wedding day,  but all year round, for all of his life. His bride is his pride and joy. Not much else in life should come before her, except for his Savior and Lord. His children even, although a couples' primary job and responsibility, are not the ones he is bound to till death...children are not in union with us, just an extension of us....intended to leave us and cleave to someone else. It's his bride. She is to be the center of his life. The priority.

Christ's bride is the church. 

She is His priority and He commands us to take care of her. To make her our priority. His love and commitment to her is deadly. I mean, so intensely passionate that you had better be careful not to dishonor, disrespect, defile, hurt or neglect her...or else. And just imagine...the Christian is part of her.

I don't think I have had that exact view of the church...and I am a pastor's wife. We tend to see the church as an organization or business, for some of us family, even. Yet still, something a step below our immediate family on the totem pole. It may even be a priority for us, but certainly not on the same level as our own spouse or children...they come first don't they? 

I know, I know, family comes first right? Ya but, who is family? What about Christ's bride? Does she come below a man's own bride? See, I ask these questions, because I am someone's bride. I expect that my Christian husband will sacrifice and die for me, put me first, but what about Christ's bride? Should I come before her? Jesus is pretty clear in Matthew 12 that He viewed his family as those who do the will of the Father are His true family...even over his physical family! That's flies in the face of modern, Christian thinking. It even goes against our natural instincts. Jesus just doesn't think like we do. 

Church is viewed and treated nothing like a precious bride, deserving our devotion and protection. She has a bad name, for "hurting" people, being boring, hypocritical, irrelevant, old fashioned or hard to handle. An organized institution, made by man, that free thinkers and strong people shouldn't need. Even Christians see her that way. I can be that way sometimes... irrelevant, old fashioned and hurtful to my husband. I've never been called boring, but certainly hard to handle. Does that mean my husband has the right to neglect me, cut himself off from me, or make someone else his priority? I certainly hope not. I am his bride. de-prioritizing me only hurts himself in the long run. How much more should I prioritize the bride of Christ than Guy's bride? His bride should come before me.

Keith Green wrote a terrible, truthful song that I like to play once in awhile to remind myself of my position, called "I Pledge My Head to Heaven":

"Well I pledge my wife to heaven, for the gospel,
Though our love each passing day just seems to grow.
As I told her when we wed, Id surely rather be found dead,
Than to love her more than the one who saved my soul."
Gulp.
A young godly woman I know and love had one rule for her new boyfriend..."Don't ever put me before Jesus." Wow. That wasn't what I was thinking when Guy and I first got together. I'm just now coming to terms with this theology. Moms, you don't even want to listen to the second verse of this song. I'll write about that someday too. It's tougher than this concept. I've always struggled with the idea that Peter's wife was crucified...and he had to watch. If that were me, I think I'd be yelling at Guy to "DO SOMETHING! SAVE ME! I"M YOUR WIFE FOR HEAVEN"S SAKE!" I don't even like it when my husband won't pamper me, let alone let me suffer for Christ....or His bride. But, my husband loyalty should be to Christ and His bride before himself and his bride. There it is. I've said it and written it. Christ's bride before Guy's.

Hard concept...especially for pastors' wives...those who are supposed to set the example and from whom more is expected. Really though, should I be afraid? After all, I am part of the bride of Christ. I am her on whom He pours out his love and devotion. Jesus will love and care for me even better than my own husband could ever imagine to.

When I start to feel a little jealous of the devotion my husband gives the church, Christ's bride, I'll stick a yellow flower in my hair and remember whose I am :)