Garden

April 20, 2004

hear it in the stairwell:Live

Not sure when I’ll get a chance to include Colorado excursion details…for now…

I am a whore.

Shocked? You shouldn’t be. You are a whore too.

I came to this sudden realization one day, as I read through Scripture and wondered why God chose to refer to His people, so often in the Old Testament, as His adulterous people. Yes, His adulterous, prostituted, unfaithful, and harlot people.

In Ezekiel 16, this is pretty clear. The Lord refers to His nation as a child who was born and then cast aside. Squirming, covered in her own blood, the child kicked. Her death would be imminent without intervention. But the Lord passed by, took notice, and began to care for the child. He cleaned her and dressed her in fine clothes and jewelry. He watched her grow from a young child into a young woman. And the Lord entered into a covenant with her, and she became His wife.

She was very beautiful, because the Lord had made her so. Yet she shared her beauty with others, instead of reserving it for her husband. She took the attractive clothing her husband had made for her and transformed them into shrines to worship. She remade the gorgeous jewelry given her by her husband into idols to revere.

She has become an adulteress. A whore. And so have I. I am that whore.

It was the Jewish custom in the days of the Bible that a man and a woman enter into a betrothal prior to their wedding. During the betrothal period, the man and the woman were pledged to each other for life. They were regarded as husband and wife, although they did not yet share a bed. The betrothal included vows, and for either person to break those vows would make them an adulterer. And the results of adultery were divorce, or worse, death.

After a certain period of time, the betrothed groom would come for his bride, and there would be a large feast and a wedding celebration. At that point, the betrothed couple would then be married, they would share a bed, and the rest of their lives together would begin.

As Christians, we are betrothed to Jesus. We have entered into a relationship with the Lord. We have made a vow to love Him and serve Him alone. We have promised to be faithful to Him alone. At our baptism, we forsake all others who may pledge for our allegiance, and we become His bride.

Jesus, our bridegroom, is one day returning for us. A large feast will be prepared, a celebration is in planning, and the rest of eternity is ours to spend united with our husband. However, like the beautiful young girl that the Lord took in and nurtured and made His wife, I also have forsaken my groom.

As a bride, I am supposed to love and place Jesus, my groom, above all in my life. But I fail in this. I sometimes love to sleep in more than I love to get up and have a quiet time of reading the Scriptures and prayer. As a bride, I am called to be faithful to my future husband. But whenever money gets tight in my home, I often find that it’s much easier to put my faith in worry than in the God who can meet all my needs. As a bride, I am expected to remain pure both in what I see and hear, but also in what I think and do. But my innocence is lost so quickly in the age of the media, combined with my lack of self-control.

In actuality, whenever I embrace somebody in my life as more important than Jesus, I am committing adultery. If my job consumes more of me than my Jesus, I am prostituting myself out. If I forsake Jesus in order to indulge in any sin, than I am a bride who sneaks out on her groom and sleeps with another.

Sound terrible? It is. But do you know the man to whom we are betrothed? Because of our sins as a bride, Jesus has the right to leave us for another more faithful and loving, but the truth and the scandal is this: He doesn’t want anybody else. His desire is for us. His heart beats for us. We are the one and only bride that He longs to spend the rest of eternity with.

It is Jesus’ passionate and relentless love for His harlot bride that nailed Him to the cross. In Ephesians 5:25-27, Paul gives instructions to husbands in regard to how they should love their wives. He uses as his example for love and sacrifice the ultimate husband, Jesus.

Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church (his bride) and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church (bride), without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

Jesus loves His adulterous bride. So much that He gave His very life up for her. Our infidelity has dirtied us and our disloyalty has blemished us. But this sacrifice by Jesus frees us, who are whores, to wear white on our wedding day. We are forgiven as we walk down the aisle. We are in His eyes, the most beautiful and most precious bride that the world has ever known. And He is the one, by His death and burial and resurrection, who has given us that beauty.

Jesus loves adulterous people. Jesus also loves His radiant, holy, and blameless bride. We are one and the same.

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