Later this week, Iris and I will celebrate our 7th anniversary. Time seriously flies! We had our wedding in Korea, but since I don’t speak Korean I just nodded my head hoping the pastor was saying things I heard in movies: “In sickness and in health, for richer or poorer” etc.
Over the years, our marriage has helped me understand Jesus’ heart for His bride: the church. I’ve heard many a preacher say, “Jesus is coming back for a GLORIOUS church!” I agree, but that doesn’t negate the reality that she sometimes has bad days…or weeks…or years…or decades…or centuries. Though pastors/leaders/volunteers should never take the place of Jesus in the church (despite the hero complex we can have), we are still called to serve and tend to His bride. Sometimes that means doing it in sickness, when she is hurt, angry, and fraught with division or a scandal—and in health, when she is in her prime, flourishing and pumping out world-changing disciples faster than Octo-Mom. For richer, when she has tons of attendance, staff members, money, and the fame of Julia Roberts during her Pretty Woman days—or for poorer, when she’s struggling to make ends meet and care for the few she’s got left.
My best and most trusted friends are the ones who care for and have a constant consideration for my wife. It doesn’t mean my guy pals replace my role as her husband, but simply that if needed, they would care for the one that is most valuable and precious to me. I don’t have many friends that try to manipulate my bride, fleece her for money, or love her conditionally depending on whether she prefers contemporary worship over hymns. It’s hard to reconcile the concept of loving Jesus but dissing His wife.
There’s this great story in Genesis 24, where Abraham’s chief servant is charged with finding a wife for Issac. This man travels to Rebekah’s town in his master’s name, finds Rebekah, and escorts her back to Abraham’s home. He doesn’t use the occasion to woo Rebekah to himself but rather presents her to his master’s son, Issac. This is such a powerful picture about how to tend to the church. We’re not supposed to flirt with the bride, use her, or draw attention to how great we are. Our job is to point her to and lead her towards the son Jesus and talk about how great He is! Best part of the story: the name of this chief servant is never even mentioned! I can just picture how many of us would feel “under-appreciated” if we were that guy, but this is really a foreshadowing of John 3:30 – “He must become greater, I must become less.”
No matter where you’re serving, where you’re sent, or whether anyone even knows your name–tend well to Jesus’ bride. It’s a sacred trust!
Disclaimer: my wife hasn’t aged a day or gained a pound since we got married, so all these illustrations are figurative when it comes to her. Sorry if there was any miscommunication…apparently that’s still an issue I need to work on =)