Beautify My Bride
Last week I found myself sitting on a panel with a transsexual, a feminist and a self identified gay-queer discussing issues of gender in front of a very secular crowd in a Northbridge pub. Through the night people kept telling me that my initial comments set the tone for the evening, that the main issue was not male- female or gender/sexuality, but our identity as persons. Whether it was that comment which settled the crowd into a respectful mood I don’t know but the Lord has kept building on that experience. Last night I was in a prayer meeting for a proposed Perth based rehab ministering to women coming out of prostitution; some ex sex workers were there. This morning as another group was interceding about the struggles fellow Christians have in supporting one another’s God given visions, the Spirit spoke through the story of a “sinful woman”. The result is this prophetic teaching.
The Beautification of the Bride
When Jesus was in the house of a prominent Pharisee a “sinful woman” wet his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. To the woman Christ speaks a word of forgiveness, salvation and peace (Luke 7:36-50). As I was praying I could sense what was going on in the Lord’s spirit at that time. Jesus was overwhelmingly aware that this woman was sent to him by the Father (John 6:44), and the depths of her humiliation and repentance were potent signs that this person was being beautified to be a part of his Bride forever. As Jesus sensed this wondrous beautification he was filled with a conviction that such a marvellous transformation was worth the cost of the cross. We need Jesus’ perspective today on how he is preparing the whole of his Bride the Church to be his marriage partner forever. What I sensed next greatly surprised me.
The Bridal Bath
The entire period between Christ’s first and second coming is the time of Bridal preparation; we are in a “bridal bath”. As Esther was bathed in precious spices and ointments for a year of beautifying to prepare her for the presence of the king (Esth 2:12-14), we are being intensely prepared for union with our heavenly Husband. Mature Christians intentionally embrace this preparation; ““his Bride has made herself ready it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”” (Revelation 19:7-8 ESV). In this “bridal bath” we are being “cleansed…by the washing of water with the word” to be presented to Jesus “in splendour, without spot or wrinkle …holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:26-27 ESV). The Lord makes us “clean” by the “word he has spoken” (John 15:3 cf. 13:10), “the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Tit 3:5 cf. 1 Cor 6:11; Heb 10:22) and “the sprinkling of his blood” (1 Pet 1:2). Through this purifying the church partakes of “the beauty of holiness” (Ps 29:2) and becomes a Bride fit for her King. The whole Church is immersed in her union with Christ in God’s bridal bath of the Spirit and the Word.
One Bath Alone
The Spirit is saying to “the churches” that there is only one bridal bath. There is no such a thing as a “Roman Catholic bath”, a “Pentecostal Bath”, a “Baptist bath” and so on. We need to see that we are all in this one bath together (cf. Gal 3:27-28). At this point the vision becomes rather uncomfortable, for we are called to wash one another. This washing is a serving of one another through prayer, the Word and witness, it involves a mutual serving of the visions the Lord has given to each of us.
This service has nothing to do with the hierarchical imposition, persuasion or coercion to support the “leader’s vision” so prevalent in the Body today. When I perceive that the vision Jesus has given my brother/sister is for the beautification of his Bride I am seized by love for Him to see that vision fulfilled. I will desire with great desire and humility to wash this brother’s/sister’s feet, indeed their whole person (Luke 22:15). Such inspired servanthood is the way of the kingdom, and the only way in which godly revival can come and remain (Mark 9:35). This is a difficult call. To allow Christ to wash my feet through the ministry of another, all too fallible servant, is pride destroying. Receiving from another with “the mind of Christ” is a high form of serving others (Phil 2:3-5).
The beautification of the Bride of Jesus is a very “noble theme” (Ps 45). Some would even say that this subject is “romantic”. Let me however return to the sexually broken people that have been around me lately, and the story of “the sinful woman”. Gays, queers and prostitutes are no more sinful than the rest of us, but they are a powerful, if uncomfortable, prophetic picture of our past and our future. The “great prostitute” of Revelation (17:1ff.) and the beauteous Bride wedded to sweet Jesus forever (Rev 19) are not two altogether different groups of people; the harlot is you and me as we once were, and the Bride is who we are increasingly becoming in Christ. This radical transformation of our personhood is a “great mystery” (Eph 5:32 cf. Rev 17:5), and something which Christ longs to reveal to us. Such a revelation will not come in some mystical or individualistic manner, but through the way we serve one another in love.
 Regular readers will see that it is an extension of the teaching The Worship God Seeks.