When I was younger I remember going to my first wedding and being frustrated by how much attention was given to the bride. I was just a selfish little boy at the time, but it seemed wrong for the groom to be merely an afterthought in his own wedding.
Think about it for a second.
In every wedding the bride walks in wearing a hand-stitched dress adorned with sparkling gems, lace, and pearls (usually costing well over a few thousand dollars), while the groom is wearing a rented tux that he’ll have to return the next day.
The bride enters radiantly from the perfectly backlit, enchanted church doorway; walks down the middle isle during the most grand crescendo of all instrumental glory; and everyone is standing in reverence and awe. As a warm-up act, the groom enters through a side door to the karaoke version of a Shania Twain song.
However, the book of Revelation says, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”
It is the wedding of the Lamb, not the bride!
In a healthy church, Jesus is the most famous person. He gets the most airtime, he is the most talked about, and he is clearly center stage. He is seen as the head of the church, and the leadership does their best to spread his fame.
– Lance Witt
Has there been a shift in the focus of the church? Has the spotlight come to rest on you, the bride, rather than your groom Jesus?
I have often questioned who is truly being worshiped in our churches today. Are we really worshipping Jesus as our savior and our God? Or are we in essence worshiping ourselves? Has Jesus simply become an accessory? Do we put him on like a new pair of clothes and then stand in the mirror admiring the way we look?
It’s alarming to witness multitudes of Christians worshiping their “new creation” simply because they are now “clothed in Christ.”
Would this not still fall under the category of the first chapter of Romans? Remember what the Apostle Paul writes in the twenty fifth verse, “Because they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the [new] creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!”
It is true that we are no longer sinners, but now saints. However, we only find ourselves as saints because we are sinners who have been saved by grace.
We must learn to balance our new found blessedness with our continued brokenness.
One thing I greatly appreciate about the Reformed Tradition is that it encourages its adherers to make deep and profound strides to stay in touch with their own depravity. I spent a good deal of time at a Pentecostal school during my undergrad and I honestly can’t remember ever even hearing the word depravity. I heard a lot of “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”, but never a single, “In sin did my mother conceive me and in iniquity I was brought forth.”
We forget that the Gospel is not, “Be like Jesus or you’re going to hell.”
The Gospel is, “I needed Jesus, I still need Jesus, I will always need Jesus, thank God for Jesus!”
One of the most significant distinctions I’ve noticed between the writings of the Reformers and contemporary Christian literature has to do with this one powerful word… depravity.
Every legitimate church historian would agree that the spiritual giants who came before us had a much more heightened sense of awareness of their own depravity than we do today. So what does this mean? It means they didn’t trust themselves. They had the zeal to recognize their full potential, but the wisdom to admit that not all potential is positive. The french theologian Francois Fenelon once said,
The closer you get to God, the more miserable things you will find in your heart. This is not a negative thing – God allows it to let you lose confidence in yourself. You will have accomplished something when you can look at your inner corruptness without anxiety or discouragement and simply trust in God.
This awareness causes us to pursue personal accountability with a sense of urgency like never before. It causes us to “own our stuff.” It causes us to stop being victims. If there is one thing I know about victims it’s this: victims never grow. If we ever plan to truly grow in our personal spiritual maturity we will eventually have to repent of our victim mentality, own our depravity, humble our hearts, and let God in. We need a revelation of God’s holiness.
Remember how the prophet Isaiah responded when he was caught up into heaven and saw the Lord in his glory. He said, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
Where is this response among the people of God today? Show me one person who thinks like this and I’ll show you the next Spurgeon, the next Calvin, the next Edwards or Wesley. These are the people who will bring glory to God and true spiritual blessing to his church. As John Piper wrote,
Christ does not exist to make much of us. We exist in order to enjoy making much of Him.