Q&R with Greg Albrecht – “How does the Bride of Christ make herself ready?”
The Bible says that prior to Christ’s Return, his bride has made herself ready. Since, as you say so often, we are saved by grace, and not by anything we do or produce spiritually, how does the Bride of Christ “make herself ready”?
The Bride of Christ is of course but one of many New Testament metaphors used to describe the universal body of Christ, and individual Christ followers who, by God’s grace, compose that universal body. This particular metaphor is one of the most beautiful and enduring. Marriage is the most intimate of all human relationships, and this metaphor describes the intimacy individual Christ followers now have and will eternally enjoy.
Christ is the head of the body (a separate metaphor with an obvious metaphor to a husband and wife being “one flesh”) – the church. He is the head of the relationship between himself and his bride – the church. Jesus is the perfect husband (2 Corinthians 11:2) , who protects, nurtures, provides, and perfects us. Through his indwelling life in us our Risen Lord perfects us so that he “can present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle of any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:27, my emphasis).
The Bride makes herself ready inasmuch as the bride trusts in and yields to Jesus so that he can perfect her (us). We cannot make ourselfs perfect, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish. If any spiritual descriptor fits human beings it is that we have stains, wrinkles and blemishes, and no amount of stain removal can take away our imperfections so that we can perfect ourselves. Only Jesus can make us white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). He presents us to himself, we do not present ourselves to him on the basis of our attempts to improve ourselves.
The Bride of Christ is subject to him and follows him – the Bride does not regard any pretender or middle-person to be the equivalent of Jesus. Jesus alone is our divine husband. Jesus alone loved us and gave himself up for us. Religion and its edifices, ceremonies, rituals, creeds and authorities did not accomplish this. They may help or they may deter in our relationship with God, but they are not our divine husband. Jesus alone is the soap, the detergent, who can remove all stains and all imperfections – no religious laundry detergent can wash us clean. No amount of scrubbing, on our part, or on the part of a religious professional, can produce a perfect bride.
Jesus loves us in spite of who we have been and who we are. He does not expect us to become perfect – all he asks that we trust in and follow him.
Again, you ask, “how does the Bride of Christ make herself ready?” This is the phrasing and articulation used in Revelation 19:7-8, and as you may know, Revelation often speaks of Jesus as the Lamb of God. If we read these two verses we will see how the Bride “makes herself ready.”
- “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. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear” (Revelation 19:7-8, my emphasis).
We, the Bride of Christ, do not have the necessary spiritual skills and abilities to fashion and make an appropriate wedding dress. We do not now, nor will we ever have, enough spiritual currency to enable us to shop in the heavenly wedding apparel store, or one that advertises and promotes itself on one, on Amazon or in a literal brick and mortar store, to purchase a dress that is without spot, wrinkle and is of fine linen, bright and clean. Jesus buys our dress. Jesus gives us the dress we must wear to marry him. That’s how the Bride of Christ makes herself ready to marry Jesus, the Lamb of God.