Sunday, September 18, 2005

# 79: The Perfect Bride

Once upon a time, there was a King who had a wonderful son. As a Prince, this son was the pride and joy of his father. When it became time for this son to take a wife, the Prince left the royal castle in search of a bride, knowing that it would be his father’s joy if he could find a wife of royal blood. The Prince went through town and country and all the neighboring villages, first looking for royalty, but because he was not handsome or of great stature, the royal ladies were reluctant to have him. Finally, out of near desperation, he went amongst the common folk. After looking high and low, he found a wonderful peasant girl and they instantly fell in love. They were the perfect couple.

The Prince told his future bride that he was a noble Prince and that his father wanted him to marry royalty. He didn't know if his father would receive her with congeniality or not because she was a commoner. The bride-to-be told the Prince that before she could accept his offer of marriage, she had a confession to make: A few years before, she had lived as a prostitute out of financial necessity. This fact broke the Prince’s heart, but nevertheless, he loved her dearly and still wanted her to be his bride.

After a short courtship, it was time to bring her to his castle to meet the King. When the son introduced his bride-to-be, his father immediately threw his arms around the girl, giving her hugs and kisses with no time wasted. Because of the love the father had for his son, he accepted the son's choice of a bride with joy. He didn't see the new bride’s flaws. All he saw was the perfection of his son in his new daughter. Upon the marriage, the King gave the new daughter full status of Princess and loved her as he loved his son.

Despite the King’s acceptance of her, however, the young girl had her doubts, such as “How can the King and the Prince have so completely overlooked my previous life?” She began to feel that she didn’t truly deserve her new life, and doubted the sincerity of her new husband and father-in-law. As time went by, she started to think that perhaps her husband was just a fool in love, and that the King had merely agreed to the marriage in order to please his beloved son, all the while maintaining an unspoken grudge against her. Still hardened and suspicious due to her old life, she never said anything to the Prince about her fears, so he was unable to comfort her. After a while, this sadness on the part of the new Princess resulted in a deepening coldness between her and the prince. The underlying reason: The Princess believed that no matter what she did, the King would never truly look upon her with favor, despite his outward acceptance.

In a desperate need for love, she went into town and met up with some of her old cronies. This quickly became a habit, and soon she had all but reverted to her old lifestyle. When the Prince found out, he was heartbroken. It was one thing for his wife to be distressed and unhappy, but now she had disgraced the throne. The sad result of the Princess’s action was the marriage ending in separation.

Now, there is a similar story of another King who had a son ready for marriage. The story went the same as the first, in that the son brought home a bride of ill repute. Upon meeting her, the King threw his arms around the girl and gave her a big kiss and a hug. Only this time, her reaction was different. Instead of being doubtful and suspicious, the new Princess was thankful and full of joy at being treated like a precious daughter by the King. This was the perfect motive for the young woman to leave her old life of sin entirely behind her and start living up to her new status as Princess. It wasn't difficult for her because of all the love she received from her new husband and father. She eagerly adopted the lifestyle of royalty. As time went on, no one would have guessed that the Princess was of common blood, let alone a former prostitute. She was transformed from the inside-out, by love and by the belief in her acceptance. Love and acceptance gave her the motive to live like a Princess.

As documented in several places in Scripture, the children of God are called the bride of Christ. The only way we could have come into the presence of the Father with all His purity and holiness, without being destroyed by the brilliance of His love, was to attach ourselves to Christ (become one with Him as bride and bridegroom) as His beloved. The Father loves His perfect Son above all things. Whatever the Son loves, the Father loves also. Because of Jesus’ love for His bride, the Father will see us as beautiful and perfect. Remember, beauty and perfection are in the eye of the beholder. Therefore, He gives us the status of perfect sons and daughters. The Father loves us in the same way He loves his only Son and the Son loves us, and the only thing we have to do is hold the hand of our loving Jesus as His bride (remain united as one person). There is no other way to get to the Father. If we go on our own, He cannot accept us.

The nice part of this arrangement is that we have been given the same status as His perfect son. What do you think we will do? I hope you guessed it. Yes. Believe it and live up to the status that was given to us by The Father, because He loves us as much as He loves the Son. His love for us is the only perfect motive to live pure, holy and perfect lives, just to live up to how He sees us. If we believe the above words, the Father will give us an added benefit: the life and spirit of His Son, empowering us to live up to our new status and the strength that Jesus had while living as a mere man for thirty-three years. That is how we will be able to live in a way that pleases God, through Jesus Christ. Living that way is ONLY EVIDENCE of our belief in what God did for us through Jesus Christ. His love for us always brings out our greatest potential: to live in a way where we desire to love Him in return. As mentioned previously, with the security of God’s love, we will not desire or need the recognition that comes from men/women. Therefore, after living in the company of His love for a while, we can’t help but tell others about Him firsthand without depending on what others (the clergy) say about Him. What a privilege it is to be chosen and accepted as the bride of Christ. All we have to do is believe Him.

Was Christ concerned about Himself and His Salvation? Certainly not. Therefore, the closer we get to Christ, the less we will be concerned about our Salvation. The most important thing to God and Christ is people, and that will be the most important thing in our lives as we grow into our spiritual maturity (experiencing the fullness of Christ). No one is worthy to be the bride of Christ, regardless of how good they are, but Christ’s love for us gives us the status of Christ, making us worthy in the eyes of The Father. His love will—in every case—consume us to the point of perfection. As the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 13:11, "Aim for perfection." THIS IS A REALISTIC CHALLENGE!

When we claim we believe the aforementioned but our lives do not demonstrate that belief as an example to others, we really don't believe, no matter how often we say it or how loud we shout it from the rooftops. How can anyone believe it without living it? If the Princess didn't really believe that the Prince and the King loved her, she might secretly go back into town to visit with her old friends and allow them to seduce her back into a life of ill repute, just like the peasant girl in the first story. If she did this and the King found out, what do you think the Father and the Son would, in all good conscience, have to do? I will let you answer that one...

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