Often on this blog, I use the phrase “the Christian walk”. What does someone who didn’t grow up in Christian circles make of that phrase? What does it look like? I heard a sermon on marriage recently, which on reflection, helps me understand the Christian walk better. Scripture teaches that marriage between a man and a woman is an archetype of a deeper mystery: the marriage between Jesus and His Bride, the Church [Ephesians 5:31]. As I mentioned in a previous post, marriage was God’s idea not ours. It points to something greater which we need to understand if we’re to live godly lives and sustain godly relationships.
In the aforementioned sermon, the preacher drew parallels between the weddings he officiates and the wedding between Christ and His bride [Revelation 21:2]. The preacher explained that at the culmination of history as we know it, Jesus, the Groom, will be waiting at the end of the aisle for His Bride. The Holy Spirit, who leads the Bride to Jesus, is already escorting the Bride down the aisle. And God the Father, who gave His Son to the Bride, is patiently waiting with His Son to officiate this wedding ceremony involving the Godhead and the Church. As I reflected on this parallel, it occurred to me that while Christ has just one Bride (we’re not individually brides) [Romans 12:5], each of us has to make a personal decision to walk down that aisle to meet Jesus.
Extending this parallel further, I would add that the aisle represents our lifetime. I’d also add that the place where our walk begins is the cross. At the cross, a place of decision, a holy God confronts us with the reality of our sin and rebellion towards Him. There, we can choose to remain rebellious, or we can repent i.e. change our heart, mind and actions, by turning away from sin and self-determination and submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and His word. If we choose to repent and believe in Jesus, our sins are forgiven and we’re instantly made right with God [Acts 16:31]. We’re also sealed with the Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of the inheritance that awaits us [Ephesians 1:13]. From there, we begin our walk towards the marriage feast of the Lamb [Revelation 22:17].
As I listened to the preacher, I imagined myself as a bride walking down an aisle towards her beloved. That is the essence of the Christian walk – setting our eyes on Jesus as we advance towards Him daily [Hebrews 12:1-2]. We’re the apple of God’s eye [Zechariah 2:8], and He desires our walk to be fully pleasing to Him [Colossians 1:10]. This is the journey of my life. My goal is to walk into the embrace of Jesus when my time on this earth is up. Each day, I’m a step closer to that goal, just as each step a bride takes advances her closer to her beloved. What’s evident throughout Scripture is that we cannot choose how we walk, if our goal is to be received by Jesus and His Father at the end of the aisle. There is a way we must walk [Ephesian 4:1-3].
It’s worth remembering that Jesus didn’t choose us because we were desirable. We were slaves clothed in filthy rags [Isaiah 64:6], sold into the bondage of sin [Romans 7:14], left for dead and hostile towards God [Ephesians 2:1-3]. But God, because of His great love for us came to our rescue [Ephesians 2:4-10]. He not only forgave our sins, but He also paid the price in full for them and crowned us with His love [Psalm 103:3-4]. He has given us a new garment in place of our filthy rags [Isaiah 61:3]. A price we didn’t deserve was paid for our freedom. Therefore, we’re to glorify the One who redeemed us at such a great personal cost with our lives [1 Corinthians 6:19-20]. It’s this revelation that informs our submission to walk down the aisle in a manner pleasing to our Lord. Practically speaking, this means we submit unreservedly to His word and live our lives according to His principles and precepts.
Walking the aisle isn’t without perils. There’s your ex, the person you were before you met Jesus, beckoning you to come back to your old life. The Bible calls your ex the old man, which we’re to put away. We overcome this old man by renewing our minds through aligning ourselves with God’s word [Ephesians 4:22-24]. Then, there are the cares of this life that actively attempt to distract us from focusing on our walk. These are legitimate concerns like bills, food, clothing, shelter, relationships, etc. These things aren’t bad in themselves. But if we don’t put them in their proper place [Matthew 6:33], they’ll ultimately rob us of God’s word and our allegiance to Him [Matthew 13:7,22]. Then, there’s the devil. He wants to destroy us [John 10:10]. So, he tempts us with lies designed to make us doubt God’s word and His integrity [John 8:44]. He ultimately wants to prevent us from making it to the end of the aisle successfully.
If we’re to walk down the aisle successfully, we must see ourselves as Jesus sees us. This will imbue us with gratitude for His sacrifice to redeem and set us apart for Himself [1 Peter 2:9]. It’s also imperative that we submit to God’s word to cleanse us and set us apart as a blameless bride [Ephesians 5:26-27], as it renews our minds so that we may be able to discern God’s will [Romans 12:2].
We have a choice to make. We can either be like a promiscuous bride who scorns the beloved to pursue her lusts. Or we can be like a righteous bride whose love is firmly fixed on her beloved. What does your walk, not your talk, reveal about the type of bride you are?