Loving the Bride
By Amy Carroll

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” Revelation 19:7 (NIV)

Years ago during the midst of a really trying time in our church, I cried out to the Lord in frustration one morning. I had a bargain that I thought sounded like a great idea. “Lord,” I said, “I would really like to have You without the church. I mean, wouldn’t that be OK? I’m not giving up my faith in You. I just don’t want to have anything to do with the church anymore.” I was worn out from strife, bickering, and factions. I was confused about the purpose of church and why God would want me to be part of something that was causing so much stress and sleeplessness.

The next thought that I had clearly was not my own, because it was definitely not the answer for which I was longing. “Amy, if someone wanted to be your friend and love you without loving Barry (my husband), how would you feel about that?”

Even though I was starting to have an idea about where this was going, I answered honestly. “Lord, you know that I couldn’t have a close relationship with anyone who didn’t love my husband, too. Barry is too much a part of me. Anyone who loves me gets Barry as part of the package.”

That still, small voice continued, “Amy, the church is my bride. You cannot have me without my bride.”

I was stunned. I had never before thought of my relationship with the church in that way. Not only was I to love the church because of God’s love for it, but I am also to be part of the church which God calls as His bride.

Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” It’s not always easy being a member of a church. There are people there, you know? I joke that if I found the perfect church, it wouldn’t be perfect anymore the minute I joined! Yes, often church involves the messiness of humanity as much as than the encouragement of divinity.

As I mature, I’m seeing some of that messiness as God’s way of growing me up. It forces me to choose between offense or grace, between bitterness or forgiveness and between selfishness or service. When I make the right choices, I become a little more like Him and help to create a more radiant bride. That makes being part of a church worth it.

Lord, will you help me to find a church in which I can grow and encourage others? Because I love You, I want to be part of the church that you call to be your radiant bride. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
6 Habits of Highly Effective Christians, by Brian T. Anderson & Glynnis Whitwer

Sandpaper People: Dealing with Others Who Rub You the Wrong Way, by Mary Southerland

Visit Amy Carroll’s blog

Do You Know Jesus?

Application Steps:
If you haven’t been part of a church in a while, begin to visit one. I know that it’s sometimes hard, but God has a church for you to participate in.

If you already belong to a church, begin to pray for others who you can invite to be part of your church family. Someone who is hurting would love for you to reach out to them!

Reflections:
Have I let hurt from churches in the past impede my spiritual growth and walk with Jesus in the present?

Am I part of the problem or solution at my church?

Power Verses:
Acts 2:42-47, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (NIV)


6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This devotion is a encouragement to me because you know what my church is going through this and I am praying and know God is making a way. In the mist of life there is confusion and after each storm there will be a calm and I know God is in the mist of this trying to show his sheep to step out in faith and listen. Let us consider and give attentive continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir and stimulate and invite to love with helpful deeds and noble activities.

Blogger M. Milbourn said...

LOVE this devo Amy Carroll. Thank you for sharing it!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

God is so amazing to me. I have been considering not attending church because my husband does not attend with me. My thought was God knows me and my heart. I always feel like a single when it comes to church functions and I am tired of that. So ofcourse my dear friend suggested this site on Monday and todays devotion is this.... I know I need my church. Thank you for so clearly sending God's message to me.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me tell you that the last 2 days devotions have been just for me. I can't wait to see what God places on your heart tomorrw. Yesterday, I was upset because I got upset with one of our members because she was very ugly to one of our youth who has serious family problems (8 siblings, mother has abandoned them, teenage sibling trying to care for them, no electricity) Well, needless to say, they aren't the most well-behaved children but we are trying to do as much as we can for them (Mostly, getting them help). Out of frustration, I became upset with the adult member. I think you understand why both of these devotions have convicted yet encouraged me. God bless.

OpenID soheartfelt said...

Once again God has used your devotio to speak to my heart - just as i am feeling annoyed with church stuff and it will encourage someone else i know too.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will be forwarding this to my daughter who loves the Lord but doesn't feel like she needs to go to church.
I love this site!

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