The Beauty and Imperfection of the Bride of Christ

To wrap up this month’s Encourager’s Devotional thoughts on The Wedding Checklist, I thought I’d share a few poems I’ve written as I’ve reflected on the beauty and imperfection of the Bride of Christ. Be encouraged. Though we struggle to be what we should be, our Lord continues to sanctify us and bring us closer to His image.

We can rejoice in the fact that our Bridegroom is a loving one, who not only asks us to prepare but promises to help make us ready!

We can rejoice in the fact that our Bridegroom is a loving one, who not only asks us to prepare but promises to help make us ready!

Who Are We

We are now, we are then

We are growing, we are faltering

We are grieving, we rejoice

We disagree, we have one voice

Full and empty, frail and strong

Stuck in the past, and moving on

Marching in, storming out

Full of faith, full of doubt

More than we know, less than we can be

Spirit wrapped in humanity

Anticipating someday, but afraid to die

Hoping to walk on water, but afraid to even try

Wanting to draw near, but straying too far

Longing for the day we will be

Who We Are


Encourager’s Devotional Series – June Bible Study Answer Guide

Here are the answers to the June Bible study for the Encourager’s Devotional Series. If you have not already read the devotion for June, you may want to do that before proceeding with the study as it explains the connection between “the city” and “the bride.”


Read Isaiah 62. What are some of the characteristics of the city before the Lord “saves” it or “establishes” it? Hint: In addition to other statements, look at what the city is called.

forsaken, desolate, foreigners eating and drinking from the labors of the city inhabitants

What will the characteristics be after the Lord establishes it?

His delight, sought out, married, a praise in the earth, holy, redeemed

What promises does the Lord make to the city?

Salvation comes! And your reward comes with it.

Read Revelation 21. What will it be like for the Bride, the inhabitants of the Holy City?

no tears, no death, no pain, God’s presence and glory

When Paul speaks on the marriage relationship in Ephesians 5:22-33, he says in verse 32, “This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church” (all Scripture references are NIV)

From verse 26, what does Christ use to cleanse us?

Baptism (“washing with water”) and the Word

Read John 17:6-21. Use verses 14, 16, and 18 to fill in the blanks. The world hates us. We are not of the world, but we have been sent into the world.

Verses 20-21 explain one reason we are sent into the world. What is it?

that the world may believe that Jesus was sent by God

According to James 1:27, we are also sent into the world to take care of other people. But while we are ministering to the world, we are warned to stay “unspotted by the world.”

In 2 Corinthians 11:2-4, what does Paul say we must guard against if we want to be a “pure virgin” when we are presented to our “one husband, to Christ”?

false gospels

Read 2 Peter 2:12-3:18. What kind of people are described as “blots and blemishes”?

blasphemers, creatures of instinct (like animals), adultrous hearts, seducers, deceivers, greedy, people who use empty and boastful words, slaves of depravity, scoffers, lawless

Note, from 2:1, that these people are not people outside of the church, they are “among us.” Yet from Revelation 21:2,27 we see that the Bride, at the final presentation, will be “beautifully adorned” and that nothing unclean, and no one who does what is abominable or lies will ever enter the city. What does this say for those people who are “spots and blemishes” on the Bride right now?  Continue reading

The Wedding Checklist – June Encourager’s Devotion

My beautiful daughter-in-law, Haley

My beautiful daughter-in-law, Haley

Ah, June! The month the bride’s been waiting for. She’s made sure everything on her checklist has been taken care of and she is ready for the big day. Her desire is to be the most beautiful sight her bridegroom could possibly imagine. The thought of something being left undone, or of her glorious gown being anything less than spotless, is horrifying. She has worked diligently on the plans, and one adoring look of approval from her bridegroom will make it all worth it.

We Christians, too, have a wedding day to look forward to. We are called the Bride of Christ and we anticipate the day we are presented to our Bridegroom. Isaiah 62 and Revelation 21 both use a mixed metaphor for God’s people. In both, we are described as a city and a bride. The Isaiah passage indicates that some work needs to be done for the city/bride to be ready for presentation, while Revelation depicts the glory of the completed work.

So, how do we get from the one image (needing “a little work”) to the other (a completed work)? How do we make sure that we stand before our Lord “not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing” on our wedding dress? How are we ever going to be completely “holy and without blemish”? According to Ephesians 5:22-33, we do this by submitting to Christ and allowing Him to work in us. We become one with Him, as a bride becomes one with her husband, and we allow Him to “nourish and cherish” us. We let Him complete the work of cleansing us and sanctifying us, or setting us apart, to be a people who reflect His glory.

I don’t know what your experiences have been with weddings, but I have found it is rare for the bridegroom to be very active in making the preparations. That duty falls mostly on the bride. It is quite a relief to know that in our marriage to Christ, the Bridegroom takes on most of the responsibility for getting us ready.

A key element in this preparation of the Bride is the Word of God (Ephesians 5:25,26; John 17:14-19). We must learn to live by it and not by the world’s standards. When we do the Bible study for the Encourager’s Devotional Series this month (next Wednesday), you will notice how often the importance of the Word is highlighted.

In the study, you will also see how often speech is an indicator of godliness, or lack of godliness. How important our speech is as we strive to become encouragers. Not only must we try to increase the output of encouraging words, but we must also be careful to stop ourselves from being involved in speech which tears down and discourages. All our acts of encouragement, all “religious” deeds are useless if we do not control our negative speech (James 1:26).

The Bride of Christ is a corporate image, much like the Body of Christ image in scripture, a body made up of many individual members. We will stand before our Bridegroom together, so our relationships are vital to our “appearance” as we present ourselves to Him. The “spots” mentioned in several of the texts we’ll study are actually individual people who help make up the Bride. Only a spotless Bride is acceptable on that great day. We must take seriously our individual responsibility in presenting a holy, unblemished Bride. And we can rejoice in the fact that our Bridegroom is a loving one, who not only asks us to prepare but promises to help make us ready!

For ways to encourage someone this month, let’s take a look at that bridal checklist: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Since the Bride of Christ is the focus here, I have revamped the list a bit to focus on people instead of things.

Someone Old – This could be the physically aged, or those older in the faith. The aging need encouragement as they begin to feel isolated and less useful. They want to know they have value and are still important to the family of God. Those who are “mainstays” in the church, who’ve been around a while and serve as anchors, should be encouraged to keep up the good work. Or maybe you just need to thank an old friend for always being there.  Continue reading