Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Bride Adorned

Revelation 21:2, "And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."

*NOTE: When the author renders the word 'Church' as shown here, he is referring to the Mainstream, Business entity Institutional 'Church' model we see today. When he renders the word church in all lowercase, he is referring to Christ's Authentic, Legitimate Home based church of His design, which He continues to build.

This piece will truly be a departure from the usual way I approach my posts. In this article I'd like to focus on the Bride of Christ here on Earth. Instead of the usual comparisons to the Main-Stream Institutional 'Church,' I'd rather concentrate on the attributes of Jesus' authentic Home based church. The attributes described in this piece hopefully will paint a picture for those within the Institutional 'Church' system of man's design to see a glimpse of what they are missing. But more importantly, I know that I have a difficult task ahead. Not only do I want to note these attributes in a simple way, I want even more to convey the spirit in which our home based church lives. Though I may be inadequate to the task, please forgive me if I don't do it justice.

In the above verse we see the great future city New Jerusalem descending from God out of Heaven prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. The word adorned means to make more beautiful or attractive. There are many things a husband can point to when describing the beauty of his bride. Things that perhaps only he notices. One may say to his bride, "I love the way your nose crinkles when you smile." Another might say that his bride's countenance is her most attractive feature. All told, I doubt there is just one attribute about one's bride that stands alone. There must be many things about her that causes his heart to go pitter-patter and thump the buttons off from his shirt. So too would I like to describe the attributes of my home church to the masses. But first I'd like for us to see how Christ see's His Bride.

Song of Solomon 4:1-7, "Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead. 2 Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them. 3 Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks. 4 Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men. 5 Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies. 6 Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense. 7 Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee."

As we can see, our Lord lavishes His expression of adoration liberally upon His bride. His fondness for her is immeasurable. He is not ashamed of His soft tones towards her. The poetic manner in which He speaks seems to flow from His heart like water from a stream. There is nothing about her that displeases Him. To Him, she is perfect. There is no spot or blemish, no corrupt thing within her. When He gazes upon her, He see's perfection. This is how Jesus see us, His bride. This is how He wishes every husband to see his bride.

Ephesians 5:25-27, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."

Esther 2:15-17, "Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king’s chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her. 16 So Esther was taken unto king Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. 17 And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti."

Esther required NOTHING to be added to her attire to catch the emperor's eye. The only thing she wore was what was appointed her by the keeper of the women. Hegai is a picture of the Holy Spirit. The king is a picture of Christ and Esther is a picture of the Bride. She is without spot, blemish or wrinkle just as we will be on that great day when we are presented to Him. Esther looked genuine and in no need of dressing up. She was a natural beauty. The impact of her presence before the throne room was immediate and captivating. There was no one else to compare to her. So likewise is the home base church of Jesus' design.

A friend of mine stepped into our home church meeting for the first time and said that he felt that he had just stepped into the first century church. For him, it was refreshing. After being in an Independent Fundamental Baptist 'Church' for so many years he felt that after just a few moments, he was taken back in time into a simpler era where families were unencumbered with the hustle and bustle of the Program-driven atmosphere of the Institution. It was simple. It didn't need any special window dressing to attract anyone into it's already warm and welcoming embrace. He knew instantly that something was different. Something stood out. It was the difference between Martha and Mary. One was focused on serving in the house and the other was focused upon Jesus. Christ's assembly is a Mary church, while the Institutional model is a Martha 'Church.'    

Christ however doesn't see the Institutional model of 'Church' the same way as a Mary church. Why? Because that 'Church' system isn't His bride. It's focus is maintaining a building, a Program or an event. That's Satan's bride. I'm not speaking about the saints within this 'Church' system. I'm focusing on the system itself (the Organizational model). Jesus' bride has attributes, which appeals to Him. He's not interested in someone else's bride. He see's His bride as free from the wickedness of this world. From the bride's point of view, her eyes are focused upon Him alone. She is flattered and considers herself unworthy to be called His own. She has joy whenever He approaches and is content to be in His presence. She blushes at His wooing and is eager to be at His side. Christ's legitimate assembly of the Home church is much the same. There is no other around to cast a batting eyelash toward. In the Home church there is no one senior pastor to divide her homage. She knows that she isn't at the top of Jesus' list. She knows that she IS the list. With this being said, I'd like to explore several attributes of His church that attracts Him.

1.   She's Attentive. Children are a part of our service and are encouraged to participate. Mothers and fathers attend to them to make sure they do not become disruptive. Inclusion is a great way to train a child to become an intricate part of the day. We have special time for the little ones as some teach and entertain them with stories and attention. Children are looked after by the group. They float freely from one person to the next in the same room and they are received by all in a loving way. "Suffer the little children..."

2.   She's a Teacher. Our services are a combination of teaching, music, song, a meal and fellowship. We do not have preaching inside the church meeting because preaching is reserved for the lost outside of the church assembly. As the Spirit moves, we have men who will teach something that God revealed to them sometime during the week. Others join in the discussion and add to what is being said. We encourage participation without opposing views which could become a distraction. Our main focus would be to uplift Christ. We stay away from controversial subject matter, which is left open for discussion during the fellowship time.

3.   She's Talented. In the Home based Organic assembly, we are especially talented. Many sing and play musical instruments to honor Jesus Christ. We accomplish this together as a whole. We sometimes have special music, but not often. There are no elaborate sound systems or stages to create a entertainment atmosphere. People freely pick and choose hymns and spiritual songs which would be pleasing to the Lord. After a song one may be led to give a testimony as to how the lyrics in that song may have a special meaning in their lives or how it may remind them of a certain passage of Scripture to be shared with all.

4.   She's Focused. Again, her focus is on Christ, her Saviour and Redeemer. Every song, every testimony, every verse spoken is about Him. She doesn't focus on herself. There is no primping or positioning for attention. She is content to be at His feet.
   
5.   She's Loving. Her love embarks on others around her because it stems from Christ's love for her. There is no one left out. She is all inclusive. There are no cliques or groups separated by special interests. Her love is not feigned either. It's as genuine as the love she feels for her Saviour.

6.   She's Bountiful. She feeds the flock with her meal. Everyone brings something to eat and share. She also shares from the Word of God and no one leaves empty or thirsty of spirit.

7.   She's Modest. There are no fancy buildings to boast of, no gaudy frills to flaunt. What you see is what you get. There is a sense of shamefacedness about her which in itself is refreshing and wonderful. She is the very personification of what it means to be modest.

8.   She's Protective. Like a shepherd watching over his flock, she has keen eyes all around the room watching for anything sinister that might approach to destroy and scatter. False doctrines are recognized and eradicated in a loving and tactful way. The unsaved aren't present, for to be family one must first have the same relationship with our Heavenly Father. The church is a family of saved believers not a combination of the saved and lost. The church is not a spiritual hospital. We are a refuge and a home for the saved child of Christ.

9.   She's a Friend. She's a friend to those who know Jesus. She can also be a friend to those who may not know Jesus, but be the one who makes the introduction. Her actions speak louder than words to all that cross her path.

10. She's Giving. Just ask. If it's in her power to give it, she will. If there is a true need, she gives of her substance, her time, her effort and her comfort. She is free to do so because she give's the Apostle's way. Tithes aren't necessary to support the church in any way for there is no debt to be paid to creditors for it's upkeep. Jesus paid for His church, not a Banking interest. If a widow or a family member is in need, near or afar, she gives if she has the means.

11. She's God Honoring. She honors God with her life. Everything she considers has Him in mind. What she looks at, what she hears. What she says and what she does all have the purpose of attracting people to Christ. She doesn't practice Lifestyle Evangelism. Evangelism IS her lifestyle. She honors Jesus by introducing people to Him. Its not a numbers game with her. Its having a true relationship with Christ and those of His family. She is testimony conscious instead of image conscious and is free range in her approach to reach others for Christ. She is easy and natural to speak with because her actions speak for her.

12. She's Altogether Lovely. Putting the sum of her parts together, she is altogether lovely to look at and to be with. Her loveliness is just as potent within as it is without. It oozes from every pore and it's bouquet is as fresh as a Springtime breeze. When one is with her, he doesn't want to leave. This is the way I feel about the church Christ has made me a part of. She is local and physical. She's not universal or man made.

This true and authentic church of Jesus' design is what He intended us to be. He has only one Bride, not a choice of brides as the Institution offers. We are His people in His format for an assembly. We are organic and living, loving and forbearing. Having a tyrannical leader does not appeal to us. We are debt free and unrestricted by outside governments. Everything done is to edification. As the Spirit leads, there we will follow. We don't choose to grow the kingdom of God the way the main stream crowd says to by using Programs and indoor conventions. We organically reach others with the Word of God and His love. We are His Bride. We are adorned for Him forevermore. 

If we're longing for the church the way it used to be in the first century, take heart. We're still here. We never ceased to exist. We didn't evolve into the Institutional model. Neither did the Institutional model evolve into the Organic model although they try to tap into that 'market' by setting up home based 'Churches' and incorporating them just as the Institute has (It's a Back Door approach). The Organic church has our own specific DNA altogether. With that being said, if we are interested in finding His true and authentic ekklesia, let us seek Christ's face to show us where He wants us to be. Let His Spirit lead us to His gathering wherever it might be held. If we cannot find an assembly nearby, ask Him if He would want us to start one. All that is needed is His leading and our willingness to begin relationship building. He'll steer us toward others who are looking for the same thing as He did me. May Jesus show us the way. His church is special. She stands alone. We are the Bride Adorned.

2 comments:

  1. Bill the TorontonianDecember 5, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    Thanks for posting this article. I find myself contemplating and praying to the Lord Jesus Christ about the following which you wrote near the end of your article:

    "If we cannot find an assembly nearby, ask Him if He would want us to start one. All that is needed is His leading and our willingness to begin relationship building. He'll steer us toward others who are looking for the same thing as He did me. May Jesus show us the way. His church is special. She stands alone. We are the Bride Adorned."

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Bill. My advise to all in your situation is, 'Be dumb enough to listen to the LORD's leading, and be smart enough to follow through.'

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